WEB EXTRA: Program Board urging students to vote against constitution

The Student Association held a special two-day election starting Wednesday in which students had the opportunity to vote on the adoption of a new constitution for the government.

While some organizations are campaigning against the new constitution because they oppose potential changes to how elections would be run and the SA’s structure, SA senators supporting the legislation continue to defend it.

In a mass e-mail sent Tuesday night to its members, Program Board said the SA did not consider student feedback before calling for the election and said the changes to election rules are too dramatic.

“This effort was organized quickly without much debate or publicity to the student body, and without consulting other organizations that are affected,” the e-mail said.

Under the current SA constitution, a Joint Elections Committee is established with representatives appointed by PB, the Marvin Center Governing Board and SA president.

Under the new constitution, the Senate would have oversight over the election by determining if violations go to the SA court, hiring poll watchers and advertising the elections – all responsibilities previously held by the JEC. The Senate would also appoint all members of the JEC.

The PB e-mail states that changes that will be made to election rules give too much power to the Senate and “it is the intent of many senators to end joint elections.”

Jeff Goodman, the SA executive’s vice president of judicial and legislative affairs, said last month that the election changes give “a senator the ability to be judge, jury, executioner and candidate all at once which undermines the idea of an independent electoral supervisor.”

The PB e-mail calls for the election to be postponed until the spring election so that more discussion can take place.

Last month sophomore Chris Rotella, chair of the Senate Rules Committee and a sponsor of the new constitution, said the new document would clarify loopholes within the existing constitution and allow the SA to run more efficiently.

“This will better help the SA serve the students without the internal SA politics,” Rotella said at the time.

SA Sen. Joseph Henchman (Law) said Tuesday that the changes to the constitution are positive and do not negatively affect PB or any other student organization. He dismissed the notion that the election was organized quickly and without student input.

Henchman said it is imperative the new constitution passes to “prevent a repeat of last year’s election disaster and to prevent people from running for offices that will no longer exist.”

If passed, the constitution would also change the role of the SA executive vice president. Currently elected by students, the EVP under the new constitution would act as chair of the Senate and be elected from within the Senate body. Another SA vice president position would be created to run in an election with the SA president.

The SA Senate overwhelmingly supported the constitution referendum to be put before students this month in a 20-4 vote. Students have until 9 p.m. Thursday to vote in the special election in J Street, Hall of Government, the Law School, the medical school (Ross Hall) and Mount Vernon Campus.

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