Born in the SGA

by Kris Olson

It was a chilly Wednesday evening when the clock struck 9 p.m. The usual cast of characters filed into Conference Room A for the first Student Government Association meeting of 1824.

SGA president Stephen Austin banged his gavel as the secretary called roll.

“John C. Breckenridge!”


“Cassius Clay!”


“Jefferson Davis.”


Henry Clay, the group’s faculty adviser, took his seat in the corner. Not realizing that his name would one day grace the front of a first-year residence hall, he wished he were elsewhere.

President Austin continued, “And now it’s time for weekly committee reports. Elections committee?”

“Yes, we’ve decided that poll taxes should not be administered in Front Lobby during voting,” said Richard M. Johnson, who was usually conspicuously absent.

“Academic life?”

“We recently polled several slave-owning Transylvania alumni,” John Marshall Harlan said. “Our survey reveals that apparently the majority of slaves find slavery to be very depressing.”

“Thank you, John,” President Austin said. “And to recap last week’s business, we decided to name a café after our beloved Professor Rafinesque and immediately remodel it to look like a state-of-the-art 1820s food court. Some suggested it would be better to give that money to a kid on the other side of Fourth Street who doesn’t get to eat lunch anywhere, but this was widely seen as ridiculous.”

As several people nodded in approval, the group moved on to new business. SGA was presented with two new funding requests this week, the first from Transy’s new quidditch team. Breckenridge, a representative of both SGA and the quidditch team, stood to pitch his case.

“My name is John C. Breckenridge, and we are asking for $500 to buy the brooms that will finally allow us to beat Harvard and William and Mary’s quidditch teams. I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.”

John Harlan raised his hand.

“Yes. What the hell is quidditch?”

Breckenridge’s eyes beamed with excitement as he launched into a description of his passion:

“Over 150 years from now, a popular series of books featuring wizards will inspire a new broom-based sport. We are trying to stay ahead of the curve.”

Another senator raised his hand.

“Can you actually sweep things with the brooms?”


Everyone seemed impressed by Breckenridge’s mastery of the topic. After Breckenridge left the room, the senate went into pro-con debate and ultimately approved the request. Harvard would get theirs!

Next up was a funding request by TUnity, a group that believed black people and white people should be allowed to marry each other. They hoped to host a conference that would convene blacks and whites from all over Kentucky.

This time, Richard Johnson pled his case, this one much more controversial. When Johnson had finished answering questions, the group again went into pro-con once again.

“Can I hear an opening pro?” Austin asked.

Cassius Clay, the soon-to-be abolitionist, raised his hand and spoke eloquently of the need to abolish racial barriers:

“Whom we are allowed to love should not be a matter of race!”

Jefferson Davis was sitting near the back of the room, scowling the entire time. He pulled his thumb from out of his butt and turned it straight down to indicate his disapproval.

“As you will remember, Cassius, while you and I individually count as one person, our black friends count as only two-thirds each. Allowing blacks and whites to marry each other will lead to children that are worth only 83 percent of a human being. We’re bringing down our averages!”

Though Davis’ math was spot-on, several senators disagreed. The group motioned to close debate and after nearly 40 minutes, the request was approved.

Davis was unsatisfied, however. Long a proponent of nullification, Davis believed that residence halls should be allowed to follow whatever SGA laws they wished. For instance, if SGA and President Horace Holley decided to change curfew times, Thomson should be allowed to have visiting hours until 3 a.m., Forrer until 4 a.m., etc. (Hazelrigg didn’t count because no one visited there.) Resident assistants might have a hard time figuring the schedules out, but it was worth it for residence hall rights!

“Screw this crap,” Davis said, rising to his feet. “I’m starting my own SGA!”

As Davis walked out the door, John Breckenridge followed, and the two went to found a separate SGA in Conference Room B.

Henry Clay let out a deep sigh.

“They don’t pay me enough to watch this stuff.”


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