Students’ Association President Lonny Mallach revealed a plan to overhaul the SA government at his “State of the SA” Address on Wednesday. The plan, which would require a referendum of the student body, would completely revise the operations of all parts of the SA, including throwing out all current bylaws. A petition to permit the referendum is to start immediately.

In his address, Mallach pointed out several reasons for needing the overhaul, first among them being the inability of the different branches of the SA government to always work together and communicate.

“Our inability to work together has rendered us incapable of adequately serving the needs of the student body,” Mallach said.

“Currently, the government is designed to provide checks and balances between the two branches [executive and legislative], allowing branches to veto the decision the other branch makes. The system does not support branches working together, making it difficult to achieve mutual goals,” he also said.

In order to fix this, Mallach has proposed three main points to be put to a referendum of the student body. The first is to change the number of justices on the All-Campus Judicial Council from 11 to an unfixed number between 9 and 17, depending on circumstances. The second change would eliminate the current limit on SA Senate standing committees – currently limited to 5. The third and largest point would eliminate all bylaws to the constitution.

“The only way to fundamentally change and improve our system of government is to start over and create policies that make sense for the student body. The easiest way to do this is by getting rid of the by-laws,” Mallach said.

While Mallach has been leading the drive, he pointed out that the changes have been under discussion for months among the members of the student government.

The SA Constitution allows for such referenda, but it requires that a fifth of the student body sign a petition asking for such a referendum.

“I am confident that we will get these 740 necessary signatures,” Mallach said in an interview after the speech.

If the petition is successful, the SA Constitution also mandates a meeting open to all SA members – all students are members – and then an actual referendum, which would occur similarly to an ordinary election, with online voting and paper ballots.

During his speech, Mallach also encouraged people to help by signing and passing around the petition. He said later that he had already heard from at least two dozen people interested in helping the campaign.

Unrelated to the proposed changes, Mallach also used his speech to point out some of the highlights of his term, including the Donate-A-Block program, the DVD library and the continuation of the class councils. He also addressed dining issues, both in terms of recent changes and the prospects for future changes.

Mallach also refuted the claim that UR students are apathetic, citing the number of student groups on campus and their high levels of involvement. He faulted the image of the apathetic student on a lack of communication between SA groups similar to that occurring in the SA government.

“UR students are involved, but the organizations they are involved in are simply uncoordinated,” Mallach said.

Brown can be reached at cbrown@campustimes.org.



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