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Timeline: Transparency woes

For eight months the administration and the SGA have been slow to correct their Open Meetings and Open ecords poli-cies. The controversy over open governance has taken many un-expected twists and turns. This timeline documents each major development.

SGA closes meetings during deliberation and voting, preventing students from observing their decisions. The practice is defended as “tradi-tion.” Additionally, Newton SGA also held closed meetings after the initial meetings, which they called “pulling the shade.” They would later change the term to “executive session.”

Student Life directors and SGA members defend their practice of closing meetings.“It feels invasive,” said Student Life coordinator Karen Farmer.“There isn’t a policy that says they can’t do that,” said Dean of Student Services Keith Cobbs.
“We close the meeting during deliberation and voting so we can express our concerns within the SGA,” said Sen. David Bennett. “Someone from the outside may take it wrong. We do not want to feel pressured.”

(Nov. 13)—Decatur keeps their meeting closed.
(Nov. 13)—Dunwoody SGA members declined to explain why a quorum was necessary if it was merely an informal gathering of the organization.
(Nov. 20)—Clarkston SGA members accuse The Collegian of harassment, asserting that their rights as a human being were being violated.

(Dec. 2) Administration expresses desire to have meetings completely open, but would not commit to a written policy.
“We just need time to get this under control,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Vincent June. “It will happen … At the end of the day, nothing is being said that should not be shared with anybody.”
(Dec. 3) Despite the administration’s instructions, SGA makes two attempts to close their meeting to non-members at the college-wide meeting, only to have both motions dismissed by the administration.
(Dec. 10) Student Life fails to communicate to Newton SGA the administration’s instructions to keep meetings open. Members apologize for the misunderstanding after the meeting.

Administration is still resistant to a written policy for open meetings, insisting that SGA will fully comply with the law.“I haven’t seen anything and Dr. June hasn’t indicated to me that he’s going to write something down,” said Homer.

(Feb. 25) Reporters are denied access to fiscal year 2012 Student Activity Fee Budget Committee’s final recommendation documents of college-wide funds at the conclusion of the budget hearing.

(March 1) The Collegian sends a letter to all SGA presidents and Student Life directors of violations regarding to the lack of notifications of SGA meetings posted for the public. Results are
(March 1) The Collegian files an Open Records Request for electronic copies of 2011 and 2012 SAF college-wide budget proposals.
(March 18) Four campuses denied reporters copies of SAF campus budgets.
(March 18) Newton SGA whispers and texts each other throughout the hearing. They reference each item on the budget as “line item 1” or “line item 2(a).” When reporters asked officials to speak up, they were told they could only speak when acknowledged.
(March 18 and 21) Seven Open Records Re-quests are filed for Alpharetta, Clarkston, Dun-
woody and Newton SAF budget proposals and financial information.
(March 24) The Collegian formally files a complaint with the attorney general’s office.
(March 28) Requests filed on March 18 and 21 receive responses; according to the Georgia Open Records Act, the required response time for such requests must not “exceed three business days.

(April 1) Moore made the announcement that all documents discussed in weekly SGA meetings will be paperless and unavailable to the public. Dr. June claims such an instruction did not comefrom him.
(April 13) March 1 request is processed and reporters are given access to FY2012 SAF proposals. However…HR director Amanda Reddick tells reporters they were responsible for $143 for four hours of labor
costs. She gave “no comment” on how it took her four hours to gather the requested documents.
(April 18) Tricoli waives HR’s fees and instructs the department to process all seven requests immediately.
(April 20 and 21) HR only releases the March 1 request and June releases March 21 request for all five FY2012 SAF campus budgets.
(April 22) Tricoli expresses his disagreement with The Collegian’s editorial use of the word “administration,” while praising the paper’s nationally ranked status at the SGA college-wide meeting at Newton campus.
(April 22) Administration plans timetable to release the remaining March 18 requests. As of press time, the documents are to be released on April 26.

About Victoria Song

Business Major at GPC, Dunwoody.

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