Vote coming on new SA constitution

A task force of Student Association members has been seeking student input and suggestions on a draft of a new constitution, but only one student not affiliated with the SA attended a town hall meeting held Wednesday night.

The task force had hoped for input before the senate votes on the new constitution on Tuesday, but Residence Hall Association President Jessica Yager was the only person not affiliated with the SA in attendance.

If the senate approves the proposed draft on Tuesday, the question will be put to the student body for a referendum vote.

Under the currently proposed constitution, the president and executive vice president would run for office together on the same ticket, the three non-voting freshman senate seats would be eliminated, and a new speaker of the senate position would preside over the senate instead of the EVP.

Michael Komo, U-At Large, said the task force has received e-mails with comments and suggestions about the draft. The task force will hold appointments with anyone interested in speaking to members privately, Komo said.

Erik Ashida, CCAS-U, said the task force hopes to have the chance to make good arguments for the changes, but acknowledged that “the sources of friction” would come out during senate debate.

“Our hope is that none of this will be exceptionally controversial,” Ashida said. “We’ve put a lot of thought into these changes.”

The task force includes committee chairs Ashida, Komo, Jamie Baker (CPS-G), and Connor Walsh (U-At Large); Vice President for Judicial and Legislative Affairs Jordan Chapman; Jeremy Massey, an executive representative appointed by President Julie Bindelglass; senate secretary Lara Gori (who is also a Hatchet reporter); and Student Court Chief Judge Jen Goldstein.

Ashida, who was a freshman senator last year, called the current system of choosing three students at the beginning of the year “elitist.” This year, 38 freshmen applied for the three spots.

“It tells the rest of them, ‘You are not wanted here,’ ” Ashida said.

Under the current system with the EVP as the leader of the senate, Baker said there is a question of whether the EVP is a part of the executive or the legislative branch.

“We want the president and the vice president to have the same message and to come from the same team to more effectively work together,” Komo said.

Goldstein, the only member of the judicial branch on the task force, said she favors the plan to increase the number of student judges from five to seven because it would stabilize the court and allow it to hear more cases.

“I think we need more voices on the court than five,” Goldstein said. “You have five justices currently, and three are needed to convene and oversee every discussion.”

Sen. Logan Dobson, CCAS-U, said he believes the new constitution will be a waste of the SA and student body’s time, and does nothing to solve the problems that exist in the current document.

“Whenever the new constitution has a good idea, such as reducing the size of the executive cabinet, it compensates with two bad ideas, like electing three people to do the job of two, or removing the freshman senators,” Dobson said.

Dobson said a school-wide vote should only be called for issues with “a pressing need to be addressed.”

“No one outside of the SA cares at all about this constitution. Why waste their time with a vote when it’s not necessary?” Dobson said.

Bindelglass declined to comment on the draft’s specifics, but said she has been pleased with the overall procedure.

“The most important part was that it was an open process, and that there were opportunities for people to get involved,” Bindelglass said.

This is not the first time the SA has attempted to overhaul its constitution. In January 2006 the Student Court invalidated the proposed constitution that students had voted in favor of one month earlier. Subsequent legislation efforts to ignore the court’s ruling did not succeed, and the existing constitution remained in effect. One year later, another constitutional bill was also struck down.

More recently, a new constitution bill was tabled late last spring before a senate vote was held after charges of secrecy and exclusivity plagued the document’s writing.

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