Don’t scrap bylaws
I have just read with some horror your April 17 article, “Mallach gives State of the SA.”
From 1988 to 1990 I chaired the Constitution Committee of the Students’ Association Senate. Our charge was to propose amendments to the SA Constitution and bylaws to improve the functionality of the SA.
I find it interesting that in last year’s April 4 CT, Mallach is cited as raising “concern over the continued revision of the [proposed new constitution] so close to the deadline saying it precluded the committee’s efforts informing the student body of changes to the new document.”
Now Mallach is proposing amendments to the Constitution at the last possible moment. I won’t say that there is nothing wrong with the governmental institutions of the SA – from what I have been reading, the Senate, of which I served as Speaker in 1990, is falling apart.
Of note, Mallach is quoted as recently suggesting that the best way to fix things is to throw out the bylaws. First of all, he does not need a student referendum to do that – he needs only a two- thirds majority of the SA Senate. Secondly, the bylaws describe all the means by which all branches of the SA government are appointed or elected. You must have bylaws and they are relatively easy to change.
We did set an absolute limit on the number of standing committees in the SA Senate. We were addressing specific issues at the time and did, perhaps, set that number too low, but the point was solid.
The Senate may have five standing committees rather than have, say, 25 committees for 25 senators, it was felt that we needed strongly delineated areas of responsibility with strong leaders.
In my time, standing committees included Appropriations, Student Life, Academic Affairs and University Relations. The idea was that most issues would fall into one of those categories. Sub-committees could be created by committee chairs whenever needed. Further, ad-hoc committees could be created by the senate whenever needed but with specific tasks.
I’m not sure that the Policy Committee, the Senate Projects Committee and the Public Relations Committee replace those functions appropriately. I think that perhaps what the senate needs to do is to reorganize itself. The current committee structure was created in 1997 – according to the by-laws as posted on The Hive – if you want change, that is where to look.
I will also point out that a great deal of the work the senate did in my time is now handled by the president and his or her cabinet. I cannot see how the senate would need more permanent committees. The fix is not to throw out everything and start from scratch. Look at what works and doesn’t work. Reorganize in a manner to satisfy current needs with an eye towards flexibility.
Finally, Mallach’s proposal to stack the All Campus Judicial Council is bizarre. Will having more justices change their interpretation of the existing rules? The ACJC has always been a well functioning unit in my experience. I hope this proposal is based on something stronger than a dislike for their recent rulings. If you aren’t happy with your own rules change them, but don’t throw out the arbiters of the rules.
So as not to complain without offering to help, I will offer my time as I can from New York City to help if the senate would like it. I dedicated a great deal of time to that institution during my time as an undergraduate and would like to see it run successfully. Between phone and e-mail I will be happy to advise if anyone wants advice. I am 12 years removed from the campus and can offer a different point of view.
-John Hutzler Alumnus