The Student Association senate effectively killed a bill on Tuesday that would have substantially revamped GW’s student government by altering its constitution.
The new constitution, proposed late last week, would change the responsibilities of the SA’s executive vice president, taking away the EVP’s role as chairperson of the senate. It would also eliminate nonvoting freshman senators and create a “House of Freshmen” to represent first-year students.
Another major change proposed in the new constitution was to eliminate the Joint Elections Committee – the oversight body for SA elections – and instead give the SA senate the power to oversee elections.
At the meeting, the body passed a resolution urging the senate-elect to consider the new constitution when they return to campus in the fall.
Many senators agreed that the proposed changes were necessary, but some opposed the bill on the grounds that the four sponsors of the legislation – SA Sens. Michelle Tanney, CPS-G, Michael Komo, CCAS-U, Nick Polk, U-at-Large, and SA Senator-elect Jamie Baker, CPS-G – rushed to get it through.
Controversy surrounded the proposed constitution this week, with many members of the SA voicing their concerns with the secrecy of the bill’s sponsors while writing the legislation.
SA President-elect Julie Bindelglass said she agrees reforms are necessary, but opposed the way the proposed constitution was written.
“First and foremost, the work that has supposedly been going on all year was apparent to no one, as it took place behind closed doors and in secret sessions,” Bindelglass wrote in an e-mail to the SA senate. “For us to move forward as an organization next year, we need to work together to emphasize openness and transparency.”
Tim Miller, director of the Student Activities Center and adviser of the SA, expressed in e-mail to the senate his concern with reports that many students felt they were being pressured into supporting the legislation.
“For students and student orgs to feel that they are being cajoled and even threatened into supporting this legislation is completely unacceptable,” Miller wrote.
He added, “The students at GW deserve better from their student government and I would hope that all of you would hold off on passing this until it can be properly discussed by the next Senate.”
With their tabling of the bill, many senators emphasized that they wanted to let the new senate deal with the proposed constitution, allowing them to sit on the legislation over the summer and possibly put it before the body again in the fall.
“I do understand that there’s a want and a need for a certain semblance of transparency with this legislation that we tried to accomplish, but unfortunately people feel that we didn’t do enough,” Tanney said. “I’m pleased with how things have turned out. I think that everything was done in a mature fashion and I’m looking forward to hearing about the great things the senate-elect will do.”