Some Student Association members and candidates say they are concerned about what they consider flaws in the proposed SA constitution drafted by the group Change for Students. Students will vote to pass or reject the document in this year’s SA election ballot.
The constitution splits the SA Senate into graduate and undergraduate houses, among other changes, but some students said the change is too much too soon.
“I like the fact that graduates and undergraduates can (currently) meet and discuss,” said Josh Singer, SA executive vice-presidential candidate. “It really makes the SA unified, everyone has an equal voice. It’s important for a freshman to hear what graduate students have to say.”
Singer also said rewriting the SA’s bylaws, which he said would be about 73 pages long, under the new constitution would be time consuming and cumbersome for a mostly freshman Senate.
“It’s extremely difficult for one person writing a set of bylaws,” he
said. “(Writing 73 pages) is not possible for someone with advanced knowledge.”
Scott Sheffler, a candidate for the Elliott School of International Affairs undergraduate senator seat, and SA Executive Vice President Cathy Resler said they object to the proposed constitution, citing poor wording and contradictions in the language of the document.
“A lot of the big flaws have to do with people not thinking things through,” Resler said.
Sheffler said he believes the document’s most severe flaw comes in the final article, which states that the constitution supercedes all documents and charters of any previous SA document. Sheffler said this statement would negate the SA charter, which grants the SA authority to operate at the University.
“If the charter’s gone, there’s nothing,” Resler said.
SA presidential candidate Daniel Loren, who co-authored the constitution, said it would not eliminate the SA charter.
“The SA charter is a board of trustees document,” he said. Section 13.1 refers only to documents, such as bylaws, created by the SA, Loren said.
Sheffler summarized the document as “hastily written” and “extremely inconsistent” and said he hopes students planning to vote in the upcoming SA election will take the time to study the problems with the new constitution before choosing to support it.
Loren and SA executive vice-presidential candidate Mike Pelligrino, who is also running with Change for Students, admit the proposed constitution contains some errors.
“(Some) things in the constitution do have to change,” Loren said. Any changes to the proposed constitution would require a University-wide referendum, he said, because changes can no longer be made to the document without resubmitting it to the Joint Elections Committee with a student petition.
Singer said he advocates change within the SA, just not in the way Change for Students has proposed.
“Changing things is great, updating is necessary,” Singer said said.
“Student government has its flaws, all government has its flaws. But dissolving something that works doesn’t make sense.”
EVP candidate J.P. Blackford agreed.
“I don’t disagree with the principle of splitting the SA into two branches, but there needs to be a firmer mechanism to make sure there is a unified voice to represent students,” he said.
Loren said his biggest fear is to see the spirit of the Change for Students proposal overridden by concerns about the document’s wording.
“If we were all truly thinking about the students, we would all try and work together to correct (the constitution),” he said.
-Kate Stepan contributed to this report.