As a concerned student, I pay close attention to what goes on in the Student Association. I guess I am among the few who actually place value in what is the voice of the student body. This is why I am so concerned about the new SA constitution that is being proposed. Dan Loren, former senator and candidate for SA president, and Mike Pelegrino, current Elliott School senator and candidate for SA executive vice president, have drafted a constitution that would completely change the SA. There are many areas I am concerned about in this SA imagined by Loren and Pelegrino.
The first is the fact that if passed, the only position existing under the new constitution would be the president, which Dan Loren is running for. So conceivably it would be possible for the SA president to not recognize those students elected to the Senate, thus hindering the voice of the student body. Not even Pellegrino would have a position under this new constitution should he win election as executive vice president.
So I would like to ask the question: what would happen to the Senate? Would it disappear and be selected by the new president. Would the new president be able to dissolve the existing Student Court?
There is also the question of the reapportionment of the constituencies of each member of the “Undergraduate and Graduate Councils.” The senators elected will be elected in terms of one senator per one thousand students, and in the new constitution, there will surely be more senators because there will be one senator per six hundred fifty students per school. Would there be an entirely new election for the new seats? Would there be entirely new elections for all of the seats? What will happen to the senators?
My second concern is what is the legitimacy of the organization that created this new constitution. Dan Loren said 10 to 15 people drafted this constitution, suggesting it has legitimacy because more people were involved than would have been on a Senate committee. But I would like to remind Loren that those members of the Senate and those committees that would be created would be chosen by the will of the students. Only one of those 15 was elected by the students whom their decisions will affect. I never saw this committee on any ballot; I never saw posters around campus advertising the group. I never saw these people seeking out the opinion of anyone outside their clique.
My third concern is funding. Dan Loren suggested that the new legislative branches would divide finances independently. Would organizations be divided into undergraduate and graduate assignments? What would happen to organizations such as the Muslim Student Association, the Jewish Student Association, the College Republicans, the College Democrats and many other student groups whose constituencies are both undergraduate and graduate students? What would happen if the “Graduate Finance Committee” decided not to fund the executive branch, and the undergraduate population is stuck with the bill?
My fourth concern is regarding the executive branch. As a former chairman of the Dining Services Commission, I steered a joint committee that had jurisdiction under the SA constitution. What would happen the DSC under this new government? What would happen to the Joint Committee of Faculty and Students? What would happen to existing initiatives such as the Major Advising Cabinets? What would happen to all those positive initiatives that the Student Association has taken up so far?
Finally, I would also like to ask the two authors of this new constitution some questions. As a senator, the last time there was a referendum proposing a split to the Senate, why did then-senator Loren fail to address this issue by passing reforms through the Senate? Why has Senator Pellegrino not brought this before the current Senate? As a member of the Rules Committee, he could bring such reforms before the Senate allowing for debate among the elected officials. Why did this issue not come up last fall? Why is it just coming before the student body just as these two candidates are running for the two highest positions in the SA?
-The writer is a candidate for the undergraduate at large SA Senate seat.