SGA charter passes

Ashlee Clark

Student government at Western changed forever at the stroke of midnight yesterday.

The proposed new constitution and bylaws for the Student Government Association were passed on Tuesday by the students in an online referendum.

The changes will take effect next semester.

The constitution was approved by 116 students, SGA President John Bradley said. Sixteen people voted against it and there were no abstentions.

There was a total of 132 votes. Voting was done on TopNet.

This semester’s final enrollment figures have not yet been released. There were about 18,000 students enrolled at Western last semester.

The new constitution and bylaws reduce the size of the legislative branch from 75 to 35 and eliminates the vice presidents for finance and public relations.

It also creates five new appointed positions: a speaker of the senate, secretary of the senate, chief of staff and director of academic and student affairs.

The duties of the vice president for public relations would shift, becoming an appointive office.

The constitution and bylaws also create more separation between legislative and executive branches.

Some SGA members are disappointed by the low turnout.

“I certainly hope that a week from now, we won’t have the same turnout for SGA elections,” Bradley said.

Elections for SGA president, executive vice president and administrative vice president will be on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Members of next year’s legislative branch, which will be known as the senate, will also be chosen in next week’s elections.

Robert Watkins, chair of the legislative research committee and author of the new constitution and bylaws, said the old system of electing 75 legislative seats was “idealistic” because the culture of Western students is more reactive than proactive.

SGA Associate Justice Dana Lockhart said problems could still arise in the new constitution because open legislative seats could still be filled by appointment instead of election.

“The same dangers of the old constitution are still present in the new constitution,” he said.

Lockhart said he is worried about turnout in next week because of the lack of votes in the referendum.

Bradley said he was disappointed but not surprised by the low turnout.

He said he was not sure of why some students voted against the constitution.

“Certainly, it’s not a perfect document, but it is much better than what we have now,” he said.

Watkins said he was happy with the high percentage of approval for the new constitution and bylaws.

He said voter turnout may have been low on Tuesday because students may not have had enough time to research all the changes in the charter.

Watkins said he believes more people will vote in the officer elections next week.

“Hopefully, when we attach people to it, we’ll have a greater turnout,” he said.

Reach Ashlee Clark at [email protected].