Student Government Association representatives said there is a need to prevent voting blocs from forming in the House of Student Representatives given the strong presence of competing organizations in the House.
Joey Parr, chair of the Elections and Regulations Committee and member of Pi Kappa Phi, said the competition between Sigma Phi Epsilon and Pi Kappa Phi can sometimes bleed over into the House and influence voting on legislation. He said competition between the Pi Kaps and Sig Eps stems from the similarities between the two fraternities.
“We tend to recruit the same type of men, who want to be involved in leadership positions,” Parr said of the fraternities.
Haley Murphy, Speaker of the Student House of Representatives, said that though Sig Ep and Pi Kap are the most represented fraternities in the House, their numbers are not great enough to create an effective bloc.
The Pi Kaps have 11 members represented in the House, while Sig Ep has eight. The two fraternities combined represent more than 32 percent of the House.
Marlon Figueroa, student body treasurer and Sig Ep member, said apathy and an overwhelming lack of student body participation in the House can cause representatives to vote based on Greek affiliation because the constituents’ views are unknown.
Mike Vosters, sophomore class representative and a Pi Kap member, said voting along fraternity lines is much more visible because representatives are aware of the Greek affiliations of members.
“People tend to call those out much more and recognize them,” Vosters said.
Figueroa said the fraternities rarely take opposing stances on legislation brought before the House.
“If a member of our fraternity or a Pi Kap takes a strong stance on one issue, the most common thing that happens is that the members of that fraternity will back that member, sometimes blindly,” Figueroa said.
Representatives who vote or take action outside of representing their constituents are unethical because they are elected or appointed to represent their college or class, he said.
“Every time, (representatives) should always consider their constituents when voting,” he said.
Despite the divisions, about 70 percent of legislation passes unanimously or with little dissent, Murphy said.
Vosters said a more rigourous training process for new representatives would be a way to combat the flaw in the voting system.
Kelsie Johnson, student body president, said that if the student body becomes more involved in SGA, then representatives will know what their constituents want and vote that way.
Figueroa said that a proposed weekly polling system of representatives’ constituents would give House members a better understanding of how to vote and offer greater transparency to the legislative process.