The Student Government Association unanimously passed legislation to have Elon University recognize Juneteenth as a holiday and also passed a bill allowing students abroad to serve and run for senate.

During their last business meeting of the 2020 fall semester, senators discussed the importance of making sure the university acknowledges Juneteenth, a June 19, holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S. after the Civil War. 

“We are specifically using this bill as a step in the right direction,” said Malia Takei, class of 2022 senator. “This is the first piece of action in pushing for more education on programming on campus to increase diversity, equity, inclusion and awareness on campus.”

Takei and other senators also criticized the university for failing to acknowledge the holiday last June, and the importance of promoting the day to the student body. 

“I don’t know about you, but I was extremely embarrassed to be an Elon student while our university didn’t acknowledge Juneteenth back over the summer,” said Nick Urbanski, the class of 2021 vice president. “I think that this not only tells the university that we should do this every year, but that it’s the right thing to do.”

The passage of this legislation comes after senators passed a resolution supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in October. 

Chase Solomon, class of 2023 president, discussed going forward the necessity of passing such legislation in advance rather than after issues arise.

“It’s extremely important that going forward, we act proactively instead of reactively,” Solomon said. “It just sends a very different message to the community.”

Senators also voted on a bill that allows students going abroad to run for senate. The bill passed 41-2, with 41 yes votes and 2 no votes. 

The legislation does not disqualify students going abroad from serving on SGA, with an exception for executives.

Representatives additionally spoke about the benefits of the bill, which would allow students not on campus for medical or other reasons to be a part of SGA, with the expansion of virtual services like WebEx and Zoom. 

“[We] are allowing for people who are medically unable to be on campus or those who are studying abroad to run, and allowing for the student body to be represented accurately,” said class of 2024 senator Britt Mobley, reflecting on the past notions of not allowing students to run. “We have a somewhat pessimistic view in the ideals and motives of people that could or could not be running.”

Senators were passionate about ensuring that SGA could be open to letting all students take part, and use the legislation to keep their organization inclusive. 

“We say that we represent the student body, but 80% of the student body goes abroad,” said Liam O'Connor, class of 2022 senator. “I honestly believe that every single member, barring exec, should be able to run during spring abroad.”