On March 19, SA Senate passed new bylaws governing the entire Student Association. The bylaws, which dictate everything from committee duties to election procedures, were the product of weeks of discussion, debate, and compromise.
The SA President, SA Vice President, heads of All Campus Judicial Council and several senators drafted and revised the 16- page document. While the changes originally began as an effort to improve the appeals process, the senate quickly expanded their effort into a full-fledged overhaul of student government bylaws.
SA President Antoinette Esce explained, “the old bylaws were written a while ago, and not only were they messy, inconsistent and incomplete, they didn’t reflect the best practices of SA Government. For example, nowhere in the bylaws did it say what vote was needed to remove a senator. It’s crazy we functioned so long with them like that.”
With the new bylaws, all senators are to be voted on by the entirety of the studentry. The top three rising sophomores, juniors and seniors will receive positions, and the next top five senators, no matter their class affiliation, will also serve. “The change prevented the constant problem we’d have of uneven races,” Esce explained. “25 people would run in the at-large race and only two in a class race and we’d end up electing people who received only 70 votes from their class!”
The other big change was the overhaul of roles in SA. “There’s a much better idea now of who is tasked with what,” senator Vanessa Sanchez said. “Legislative is really in charge of having discussions, making the decisions about what should happen, and tasking the executive with actually following through and doing it.”
Each legislative committee will contain legislative advisors, at least two senators and a committee chair. The steering committee, which decides the agenda for each week’s Senate meetings, will now be run by the Speaker, the chairs of all Senate committees, the President and Vice President of the SA, the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice of the All- Campus Judicial Council. While senators are allowed to attend, the previously mentioned positions will be the only voting members. Non-voting members can be expelled from the meeting if so decided by the presiding members.
Vanessa Sanchez views this exclusion of Senators voting as a potential problem. “A lot of the time, big decisions are made at steering and I think excluding Senators as voting members at those meetings is potentially problematic […] but they’re trying to take steps to make sure those larger discussions don’t take place there.”
The express purpose of the executive branch will be to implement all legislation and SA initiatives. Together, the directors and aides will put together the proposals that the legislative body pass, with the entire process being overseen by the President and Vice President. There shall be Directors of Academics, Alumni and Advancement, Campus Services, Community Engagement, Public Relations and Student Life. These directors shall be appointed by the presidential team.
Overall, Esce explains that SA will function more efficiently in achieving the goals of students. “These old (Senate) committees were simultaneously trying to perform both legislative and executive functions and it was very difficult. Now, the deliberative, research and feedback work will be under the Senate Committees and they’ll have partners in the Executive Directors, who will be official parts of the President’s cabinet. Splitting up the role of the committees means more [… ]effective output from passionate and specialized people.”
Altabet is a member of
the class of 2017.