Editorial: SGA Legislators Show Cowardice on Sanctuary Campus Vote

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SGA Legislators secretly voted against a bill to recommend sanctuary campus status for Montclair State.
Editorial Cartoon by Dan Evans

Montclair State University’s Student Government Association (SGA) must be accepting applications due to the insufficient and cowardly student leadership on display in the wake of the sanctuary campus bill.

After two weeks of excuses and unproductive meetings, the SGA finally made a decision on the bill proposal. Against the will of the Montclair State community, the SGA anonymously voted against the bill, which would have recommended to administration that Montclair State should become the first official sanctuary campus in New Jersey.

While many are upset over the outcome of the vote, nothing is quite as upsetting as the way in which the SGA handled the entire matter. On the SGA’s HawkSync page, it says the SGA is run by student leaders who work “closely with [the] administration to serve the student body.” Yet, since the inception of the sanctuary campus bill, the SGA has only acted as a disservice to the student body.

In anticipation for the vote, many students attended the March 8 SGA meeting in order to show their support for the bill, but were only disappointed to find that uninformed legislators wanted to delay the vote.

With such quick and drastic policies being made regarding the lives of undocumented immigrants, the SGA should have put forth extra effort in order to ensure that voting would take place in a timely matter, but they simply did not seem to care enough. Another delay occurred on March 15 as legislators instead voted to survey students to see if they supported the measure.

The survey was created with minimal effort and sent out to students. The survey only featured the text of the bill, which was likely confusing to many students, and a single question to determine whether students supported the measure.

Yet, the survey successfully helped the SGA gain an understanding of what the student body wanted. The survey found that 74.11% of the 1016 indidividuals who voted supported the sanctuary campus bill. Even with this information on hand, the SGA chose to ignore it, effectively doubling back on the purpose of the SGA.

If the SGA is created to serve the student body, it needs to do so. Being part of the SGA should be more than a line on a resume. It is an opportunity to gain a unique glance into the needs of Montclair State students, not ignore them.

Yet, while the SGA completely disregarded the opinions of surveyed students, they did not ignore the opinions of President Susan Cole. To many, it seemed that the SGA looked toward the administration to hand them the right answer when it came to this difficult and controversial bill.

To top it off, the SGA chose to vote anonymously. By doing this, the SGA legislators did not have to face students who had supported the bill every step of the way. It was an incredibly cowardly action.

The SGA is supposed to be a body of student leaders who have the best interests of the Montclair State community at heart, but the handling of the sanctuary campus bill proved otherwise. To ensure leaders who want to serve the student body are part of the SGA, make sure to vote in the upcoming SGA elections.

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