Student government considering new constitution

Ashlee Clark

The Student Government Association may be slimming down for the new year.

A new constitution for SGA has been proposed and will likely be voted on by the student body this semester.

If the proposed constitution is passed, the number of elected legislative members would decrease from 75 to 35 and the body would change its name from congress to senate.

Students would vote on the new constitution after it is approved by the judicial council and after a set of election codes have been drawn up, said Robert Watkins, chair of legislative research committee and author of the new constitution.

He said he hopes that it will be passed within the next two months.

In the proposed constitution, there would be four elected representatives from each of the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes. There would also be two graduate students and 17 at-large representatives.

Most members of the proposed senate would be elected in the spring. Four freshmen positions and three representatives-at-large would be elected in the fall.

A chief of staff, speaker of the senate and senate secretary would also be created.

The vice president of finance would be eliminated in the new constitution, with the duties of this position going to the vice president of administration, SGA President John Bradley said. The vice president of public relations would change to the director of public relations.

Bradley said there are some changes that still can be made to the constitution before there is a student referendum to ratify it.

“Implementation will be a long and tedious process in all likelihood,” Bradley said.

The constitution still has to have a second reading and be voted on by SGA.

There has not yet been a vote because there hasn’t been two-thirds of the SGA body present at the past two meetings to vote on the constitution.

Congress members from the dorms, academic colleges and off-campus would be eliminated in the new constitution. With the current number of positions to fill, it is sometimes difficult to get a proportional representation of students on congress, Watkins said.

Bradley said that during his time in SGA, all 75 positions have never been filled.

Watkins said a larger part of the student body can be represented through the proposed new senate.

He said he hopes the new constitution will promote direct student public involvement.

Watkins proposed the addition of a chief of staff after researching 23 other student government constitutions from schools around the state that had the position.

“That appears to be something that seems to be pretty indispensable with everybody I spoke with,” he said.

The chief of staff would be appointed by the president and have a two-thirds majority congressional vote. The responsibilities would include managing the executive staff.

The speaker of the senate and the senate secretary were created to help make the SGA branches more independent, Bradley said.

In the proposed constitution, the speaker of the senate would preside over senate meetings and serve as the coordinator of committees. The senate secretary would be responsible for recording minutes and taking role at senate meetings.

Watkins said he hopes the new constitution stimulates activity not only with the student body, but within SGA.

With the new constitution, the student body will be more involved in electing congress members, he said.

“Hopefully, a precedent will be set and people will follow it,” he said.

Other SGA members are also positive about the constitution’s prospects.

“I think this new constitution is really going to help SGA govern better,” Parliamentarian Mason Stevenson said.

Reach Ashlee Clark at [email protected].