SGA vote set for today

Ashlee Clark

Just as leaders in Iraq signed an interim constitution yesterday, Western students will get a chance to approve a new charter for their student government.

Students will be able to vote today on a proposal to change the Student Government Association’s constitution, which would take effect next semester.

The referendum will be done online via TopNet. Voting will be from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m., SGA Chief Justice Troy Ransdell said.

The president, executive vice president and administrative vice president would be the only elected executive officers under the proposed constitution.

The vice presidents of finance and public relations positions would be eliminated.

The duties of the vice president of finance would shift to the administrative vice president. The vice president of public relations would become an office appointed by a consensus of the executive cabinet.

Executive officers would no longer be able to propose legislation or be members of standing legislative committees.

Other changes include a smaller legislative branch and four new positions – a chief of staff, speaker of the senate, a secretary of the senate and director of academic and student affairs.

The director of academic and student affairs would forward legislation to faculty, staff and administration and focus on issues concerning academics and students.

That position would be appointed by the executive cabinet.

The chief of staff would be appointed by the president. The senate would elect the speaker, who would then appoint the senate secretary.

All of the appointments would have to be approved by the senate.

Members of the legislative branch, which would be referred to as the senate, would also be required to be elected under the new constitution.

SGA President John Bradley said electing the senate would help close the “revolving door” of the legislative branch.

“It would make the body, in my opinion, more powerful because people will have to work to obtain a senate seat,” he said.

There would be 35 legislative seats in the proposed constitution. Seventy-five congress positions were available in the current constitution.

Robert Watkins, chair of the legislative research committee and the author of the proposed constitution and bylaws, said he believes the most important change between the current and proposed constitution is the further separation between the legislative and executive branches.

Not allowing the executive branch to propose legislation would prevent conflicts of interest, he said.

The new constitution was written in the fall after reviewing constitutions from other universities, Bradley said.

“We took the best elements of all the student government constitutions that we’ve looked at, and I believe it’s a vast improvement over what we have right now,” he said.

Elections for SGA executive offices – and the senate, if the constitutional referendum passes – will be on March 16 and 17.

The constitution and bylaws had its first reading at an SGA meeting on Nov. 11. The documents were passed unanimously on Feb. 10 by SGA after five attempts.

The constitution could not be voted on because two-thirds of congress had not been present. There has to be at least two-thirds of congress present to vote on legislation.

Reach Ashlee Clark at [email protected].