Referendum on SA split passes

The Student Association will appoint a commission to research the possible separation of the SA into graduate and undergraduate bodies, after students voted 933-206 to support the referendum to split the organization in last week’s election.

At a Rules Committee meeting Friday, SA members said the commission will gather information, conduct research on student opinion and assemble a report for a Senate proposal for a new constitution.

“The exact parameters of the split haven’t been determined yet,” said SA Executive Vice President Jesse Strauss. “Personally, I think it’s an idea whose time has come.”

Strauss said he expects a special election for the SA restructuring to be held next fall. He said the commission, which will be appointed this week, will make recommendations to the current SA Senate on how to implement the split, and the Senate-elect must continue the process next year.

Although the SA could have implemented the split without student approval, many Senate members said the decision should be put to a student vote.

Graduate Sen. Jon Rodeback (CSAS) said the purpose of the split is to address the different needs of graduate and undergraduate students. He said graduate students are not as interested in student campus life issues because most of them live off campus.

“It reflects the reality of the University,” he said. “We have very different interests, it’s just inevitable.”

Graduate Sen. Emily Cummins (CSAS) said the idea of a split began within the graduate student body, but undergraduate students were quickly included in the process.

But former SA President Damian McKenna called the split a “terrible idea.”

“(A split) decreases the political influence of undergraduates,” said McKenna, a public administration graduate student. “The students have more power united than divided.”

McKenna said funding is at the root of the split. He said undergraduates will gain nothing by the split while “the advantage to (graduates) is more money.”

However, undergraduate Sen. Jonathan Skrmetti (CSAS) said the split is not about funding; it is about creating a more efficient organization.

“Each body would be able to focus on its specific interests,” he said.

SA members said the commission will develop suggestions on how to implement the split as well as discuss the necessity of the split.

“There’s a possibility the recommendations they make will be very minor,” Cummins said. “It will also be possible for (the committee to recommend) a dramatic split in the SA.”

SA members and commissioners also will decide whether to split the executive branch or retain a single executive branch with a split legislative branch.

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