Staff Editorial: Vote down constitution changes

Today, vote no on the proposed SA constitution.

As many students probably do not know, there will be a vote today on the Student Association’s new constitution. The SA Senate passed the constitution with a significant majority, but now the decision to implement it rests with the student body. Unfortunately, the constitution is demonstrative of the self-absorbed nature of our student government. With clear intent of signaling to the SA that its focus should lie on the general student body rather than itself, we encourage all students to vote against this constitution.

The Student Association has wasted a huge amount of energy and time on this constitution over the past semester. In particular, four members of the constitutional task force – Jamie Baker, Michael Komo, Erik Ashida and Connor Walsh – have all neglected their commitment to represent students in favor of indulging in SA minutiae.

All the while, the semester lacked any substantial efforts toward making improvements in student life. The student body should consider this vote a referendum on these misdirected efforts. Hopefully, enough votes cast against this initiative will show the SA that it can no longer remain immersed in its own agenda. The passing of this constitution would vindicate the Senate for wasting a semester on useless internal changes.

The constitution will bring about few, if any, significant changes in the efficiency of our student government. One of the changes would take the executive vice president out of the role of running the SA Senate, a seemingly arbitrary change since the past few EVP tenures have been considered fairly successful, regardless of running on a ticket separate from the president. This change leaves the exact responsibilities of the EVP ambiguous. The new constitution also makes the rules easier to amend, which will likely result in even more time lost on internal proceedings rather than student advocacy.

A good example of the negative consequences of the SA’s endemic self-obsession is this constitutional vote itself. Simply put, the money wasted on this election – around $600, according the Joint Elections Committee Chair – will be money that could have been used by student organizations. That we will have a needless election instead of an enriching student organization event should be enough reason to vote against this behavior on the part of the SA.

Looking back on this semester, the constitutional change was the biggest initiative undertaken by the Senate. This has left the students without an effective representative body advocating for tangible improvements to the GW student experience. Advising, dining and academics remain at the top of student concerns, yet the SA has made no visible progress on improving these issues. There are claims that this constitution will lead to a more effective representation of students. But these arguments lack substance, and the proponents of the new constitution have yet to construct a truly persuasive defense of the proposed changes.

Earlier in the semester, the SA held a town hall meeting to discuss the new constitution. The meeting was attended by only a single person not affiliated with the SA or student media. This should have been an unambiguous message to members of the Senate that the proposed constitution was not a priority for the students they are charged with representing. Having failed to receive that message, it is now up to the student body to show the SA that its priorities do not trump those of the student body.

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