Forum: New constitution will make SA work

Change – it is the single most frightening word for just about everyone. And yet here we stand, as a student body, with the chance to make that change. I have been proud to serve as a senator to the Student Association representing the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. I have had the first-hand experience of watching the gridlock overtake student government. It has nothing to do with the people. I applaud SA President David Burt for his work, as I do the SA senators.

But there is a glaring problem. Our student government no longer represents our constituency. Somewhere along the way, we as a student government forgot what leadership is all about.

This is where Change For Students comes in. As all of you avid Hatchet readers know, the group has proposed a new constitution. It is one that would split the graduate and undergraduate bodies into two autonomous yet cohesive bodies allowing students’ needs to be better met.

This constitution would provide for more representation in the Senate, actual voting senators for freshmen and every other class, a clear-cut way for the Senate to allocate money more fairly and better relations between the executive and the legislative bodies. The students are tired of a Senate that is crippled by gridlock and power plays. The students are tired of feeling that their voices are unheard.

I wholeheartedly support CFS and the work that they have done. The
ideas in this document have been supported in referendum by the student body as a whole in the past. They have come to the Senate floor and have been ignored in favor of preserving the status quo. This was not the work of a handful of students, but of dozens of people including myself and other campus leaders. SA Senator Mike Pellegrino and Dan Loren were simply the ones who made the final draft.

The concepts behind writing this new document are fairly simple. Two years ago, GW students acted by referendum to examine the splitting of the Senate into a bicameral legislature to better address the specific needs of students. That is the main focus of the new constitution: better representation. Now graduate student needs can be met by those who understand those needs best. I have had to field questions from groups like the MCSC and the Student Bar Association. As an undergraduate, I am ill-equipped to meet those needs, just as the graduate students may not understand the best needs of the undergraduate body. By splitting the SA into two houses, our needs as a whole will be better represented.

But the benefits go beyond that. Freshmen students have no say in choosing the officials representing them. The new constitution would change that and give them voting members in the undergraduate body. I urge all who were once freshmen – and last I checked, that’s all of us – to consider the problems they had when entering GW and realize how much better off they would have been had they had a voice in their student government.

The new constitution also takes the elections committee and makes it independent of the legislature. No longer will possible candidates have the ability to manipulate who will regulate them in an upcoming election. This will lead to more fair, unbiased elections and will alleviate some of the current confusion.

We stand at a crossroads. This new proposal will make the SA work for you. We will finally have a representative body that stands not for what the administration wants for the students but what the students want for the students. It provides us with a stronger voice so we can stand together as one and say we want a change.

Simply put, as a current officer in the SA, I recognize the problems and see the solution within this proposal. All it needs is you. We are all members of the SA. You have the chance to say no to the old ways, the old games, the gridlock and the partisanship. You have the chance to enact your rights as members of the GW community.

The choice is yours, but it is hardly a choice at all. The solution is simple: sign the petition. The students of this University have a right to decide how they want to be governed. We must allow students to decide between what is right and what is comfortable.

-The writer is an SA senator (CC-U).

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