Members of all three branches of the Students’ Association government are joining together to form a committee to examine the current SA Constitution and its bylaws and whether they create an effective government structure at UR.

“The problem is that the document is antiquated,” senior, committee member and Speaker of the Senate Bronwen Van Hooft said. “It is over 30 years old and there are errors that prohibit us from doing business in a timely and efficient fashion.”

Director of Student Activities, Wilson Commons and adviser to the SA Rob Rouzer said historically there have been a number of problems with the current constitution.

The committee consists of three representatives from the legislative and executive branch, two members from the judicial branch and between three and five general students. The general students have yet to be chosen.

The Constitution, which was first written in the fall of 1969, is in dire need of revision, Junior and Chief of Staff Lonnny Mallach said.

“It is time to re-examine the role of student government at our institution,” he said.

Senior and SA President John LaBoda hopes the discussion will be a proactive one.

“Our charge is not to sit around and discuss the philosophy of student government,” LaBoda said. “We need to actually get out and talk to students about what their ideas are for a new government.”

There were several problems raised brought up with the current structure. Currently, the constitution makes no clear delineation between the executive and legislative branches, it is very difficult to amend and it makes it difficult for branches of the government to take effective proactive actions.

Everyone agreed though the current structure of government, while damaged, was not broken.

LaBoda and Mallach pointed to the development of the pub and the modifications last year to UR’s dining plans in response to student pressure as an indication of the government’s effectiveness.

“But definitely, there’s room for improvement,” Mallach said.

Senior and Off-Campus Senator Ashley Connor said, “I don’t think that the current system is flawed. It is just that we’ve outgrown it.”

Senior and Chief Justice of the All-Campus Judicial Council Ryan Walters envisions a system founded on the constitution and modified through bylaws.

“I think the constitution needs to go on the wall in the Gowen Room in big letters on parchment paper,” he said. “We need to have a constitution itself that isn’t flexible. The open structure of the new government should exist through the bylaws.”

Regardless of the final product, all members of the committee hope the evaluation process will be a fast and thorough one and that a document will be ready this spring.

“Something in writing before half of the committee graduates would be great,” Chesebrough said. “But, I think all of us want to make sure we are informed enough to make a good decision.”

Rouser stressed the importance of a fair and open process to the success of the project.

“It is absolutely vital for their discussion to be done in as public of a manner as possible and soliciting it from as many sources as possible,” he said.

Junior and Associate Chief Justice Rachel Morrissey and Junior and Fraternity Quad Senator Steve Dusklak will also be on the committee.

Hildebrandt can be reached at thildebrandt@campustimes.org



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