SA keeps student activities position

The Student Association will not eliminate the office of vice president for student activities after several weeks of debate in the SA Senate about the position’s relevancy.

The Senate voted at its last meeting to put a referendum on next week’s ballot that would have allowed students to vote on whether to abolish the office. But SA President Kuyomars “Q” Golparvar vetoed the bill Tuesday.

The Senate accepted Golparvar’s veto, keeping the question off next week’s ballot.

Senators who wanted to eliminate the student activities vice president said the Program Board and the SA’s Homecoming director have largely taken over the planning of Homecoming events – previously a main focus of the position – a change that could make the office obsolete.

Golparvar said he vetoed the bill because students demonstrated support for the position by defeating a similar referendum two years ago.

Graduate Sen. J.P. Blackford (SEAS), who supported the ballot measure, said the student body has changed since the last time the issue was called to a campus-wide vote.

“I find it ironic given that the motto of the SA this year is `Your Choice, Your Voice, Your SA,’ the president vetoed a referendum to let the students decide how the SA is structured,” Blackford said.

The office is still essential, but needs to be redefined to make the responsibilities of the positions less vague, Golparvar said.

“We need to redefine the role and then put the redefinition of the role up for a referendum,” undergraduate Sen. Mark Levin (ESIA) said.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the Senate rejected a proposal by undergraduate Sen. Jesse Strauss (CSAS) to suspend the Senate’s normal rules to adopt a bill that would put a on the ballot a referendum to require the SA president and executive vice president to be elected with 50 percent of the vote.

The constitution currently calls for a run-off if one candidate fails to receive 40 percent of the vote.

Blackford, who opposed suspending the rules, said changing the amount from 40 to 50 percent requires further debate and introduction of the measure would be premature.

But Strauss said, “This is something the SA has been debating for a long time; it’s an old idea. The only thing new was the date on the bill.”

The Senate passed a bill creating a referendum to bring the SA constitution in line with the newly-approved Joint Elections Committee charter regarding the JEC’s jurisdictions over candidates’ appeals of election fines.

The Senate rejected sections of the same bill that called to restrict the jurisdiction of the SA Student Court to election appeals.

Currently, the SA constitution gives the Student Court jurisdiction over all election appeals. But the JEC charter says appeals of fines should be made to the JEC, not to the Court.

Sen. Frank Vitolo (Law) said allowing all appeals to be handled by the Student Court invalidates the purpose of the JEC.

“If we take away the JEC’s rights to rule on their own rules, we might as well let the court run the elections,” Vitolo said.

Two referenda proposing changes in the Senate’s structure were withdrawn from the floor. One proposal called for the currently non-voting first-year graduate and freshman senators to gain voting privileges in the spring semester.

In addition, a referendum to split the School of Medicine and Health Sciences seats into a graduate and undergraduate seat was withdrawn.

Graduate Sen. Emily Cummins (CSAS), the sponsor of the measure, said she withdrew the bill after a the Senate came up with a plan to survey the SMHS students about their preferences regarding the breakdown of their representatives.

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