As the April 8th deadline looms, Students’ Association Constitutional Committee members continued to frantically finalize the rewritten SA Constitution last night. After a lengthy discussion on whether the group did not actively involve outside members enough and was overly rushing the document’s completion at the beginning of the meeting, a consensus was reached to push forward with the document.
“This document is clearly superior to the one we have now,” said All-Campus Judicial Council Associate Chief Justice and junior committee member Rachel Morrissey.
ACJC Chief Justice and senior committee member Ryan Walters agreed. “We have to proceed with the document as it is [if we hope to ever] pass it.”
“We should go through with it,” Chief of Staff and junior committee member Lonny Mallach said.
Mallach conceded that there is a lot of work to be done, imploring the group to take the newly written document to as many students and SA groups as possible in the next four days.
Early in the discussion several students including Mallach raised several concerns with the committee’s rush to judgement.
Black Students Union Vice President and freshman committee member J. R. Santana Carter insisted that, despite the committee’s efforts, many students still felt left out of the process.
Similarly, Campus Times Editor-in-Chief Todd Hildebrandt criticized the panel for not actively taking the document to the affected parties. He wanted individuals to feel they were actively involved in the writing process, not just told of the changes.
Mallach raised concern over the continued revision of the document so close to the deadline saying it precluded the committee’s efforts informing the student body of changes to the new document.
Students’ Association President and senior committee chair John LaBoda agreed early in the meeting. “I think we’re doing a disservice to the students by not bringing it to them [first],” he said.
LaBoda began the meeting worried that the process was “too rushed and the Constitution won’t get ratified” or will be with a sentiment of prevailing corruption.
The committee’s arguments, led by Morrissey, Walters and sophomore committee member and ACJC justice Erica Contini successfully answered these concerns, however.
“We lose a lot more by not doing it now,” said Morrissey. She believes that all momentum would be lost by waiting until next semester when a quarter of the school is new.”
Talk in the second hour turned to how the committee could best prepare the document for ratification on Monday.
Suggestions were made from President Jackson, Political Science Professor Gerald Gamm and many student groups were integrated into the document. As a result, many semantic, syntactic, and other changes were made for clarity and accuracy.
Resulting from outside comments, a passage was also added to clearly outline the independence of organizations. The document states: “Subsidiary organizations shall have complete autonomy within the limits of their own constitutions and the Constitution and bylaws of the Students’ Association.”
A distinct discrimination policy was also added. It includes prohibitions against several criteria including race, religion, and political affiliation.
There was a difference in opinion as to how substantive these late changes are. Some felt that the fact that they are making so many wording changes so late should give the committee pause. Morrissey countered that the changes “fine tuning.”
“We’re just going to stop Sunday night,” said Walters, acknowledging that one can debate a document forever.
Voting begins in a variety of ways Monday, April 8. Students will be required to provide a name, signature, and a student ID number or physical ID card. Much of the voting will occur at course registration, but dining halls, residence halls and other locations may also be used. A majority of the entire student body must vote to ratify the Constitution in order for it to pass.
And, no one expects a large number of students to carefully study the constitution. “People should know enough to make a decision,” said Bailey, “Most people don’t have time to know details.”