By Brooklyn Dance
Voting members of SGA spent the last two SGA meetings discussing 14 proposed changes to the SGA constitution for the 2019-2020 school year.
Eleven changes were proposed on Monday, Feb. 25. Three more proposals were brought up at the March 11 meeting, which was the last day to submit a proposal.
On Feb. 25, voting members of the general SGA approved 10 of the 11 proposals 22-0 and tabled one.
The 11 proposed changes were managed by Ivan Palomares, ASB president and edited by the executive council. Most of the proposals changed confusing wording or aspects of the constitution that are outdated.
Some of the proposed changes include allowing both the commuter president and the student athletic advisory committee president to be voting members and changing “his” to “his or her.”
The Steering committee, comprised of the ASB president, ASB vice president, ASB chaplain and faculty sponsor, was approved to be omitted from the constitution.
In the current constitution, Article VI section four states that the “The duties of the [Executive Council Steering Committee] shall be to assist the ASB President in the preparation of the agendas of the SGA meetings, placing there upon all old and new business, including any request for a hearing before the SGA by any student of any approved campus organization, and to act in the interest of the ASB in any instance of emergency when it is impossible to assemble the SGA, such action being subject to review by the Assembly.”
Members of the executive council noted that the steering committee has been inactive for years. Many of the responsibilities were created before there was a director of social life. SGA members approved to omit the committee with the intention of updating the constitution to be consistent with current action.
The proposal for class officers to plan and coordinate with the counseling center on mental health initiatives was tabled until March 11, with members unclear on the specifics of the proposal.
On March 11, the same proposal was changed to “To plan and coordinate with the counseling center on an existing mental health initiate and/or to create a new one.” The proposal was approved 18-0.
One member proposed on March 11 to add the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance at each SGA meeting.
Currently, Article V section 12 part G states “Each meeting of the SGA shall begin with devotions and prayer and en with the Lord’s Prayer and Alma Mater.”
The proposal was not approved. Seven members approved, four were against and eight abstained from voting.
A proposal to ensure accountability of all faculty sponsors was proposed and approved, 17:1 abstain.
A proposal to require those running for ASB chaplain to interview with the ASB president, faculty advisor, University Chaplain and the current ASB chaplain was tabled on March 11. Members discussed the importance, the reasoning and the added complications.
For Jake Beard, ASB chaplain, adding in two new voting members is the most exciting change.
“The most impactful change that was made was officially making the commuter representative and SAAC representative voting members of SGA. [Also,] the commuter representative title will now become commuter president and SAAC representative [will become] SAAC president.”
The intention is to finalize the revision process before the election process begins for the next executive council.
“The process starts with anyone in SGA that is passionate about SGA being as good and efficient as it can be to propose changes in the constitution,” Ivan Palomares, ASB president said. “From there we go to general [SGA] where we discuss and vote on changes we see are beneficial.”
The approved proposals will be sent to Jessica Dykes, associate vice president and dean of student development, who will review them before the student life council looks over them. The student life council is comprised of 10 faculty and campus student leaders. Dykes facilitates the discussions and remains neutral.
The proposals the student life council approves will be implemented and the constitution will be rewritten. The council could also send proposals back to SGA for revisions.
Matt Spraker, associate dean of students for community life and official SGA sponsor, explained the importance of constitutional revisions.
“I don’t believe it is necessary to make revisions to the constitution every year, but I do believe it is valuable at examining the constitution regularly to determine if there should be amendments, bylaws or changes to best serve the mission and the current context,” Spraker said.
Spraker cited the importance of the constitution remaining a historical document.
“We wouldn’t want to fall to the danger of making the constitution a constantly changing document, as the constitution should be more foundational. Handbooks and procedure manuals are often the best place for items that might be more apt to change on a frequent basis,” he said.
Palomares said that the first round of proposals covered small things, but there is potential for bigger changes later on.
“So far there has been nothing huge. We have started with the little things like changing some wording to better fit the rest of the constitution and omitting old parts of the constitution left over from past revisions,” Palomares said.
Even though these changes will not effect the current SGA, members still want to make proposals that help the next SGA.
“I hope that with these changes the constitution can govern more clearly with less loopholes and just a general understanding of what is expected from SGA,” Palomares said. “It is important to do [constitutional revisions] so that we can leave a more organized and efficient constitution for the SGA after us.”
Beard is also proud to help future SGA members.
“I am so appreciative and honored to be a part of an SGA that truly seeks the best for the student body now and for the students ten years down the road,” Beard said.
SGA’s unofficial motto is to leave things better than they found it, and for Palomares, constitutional revisions are no different.
“In these changes I would love to, like we have tried to do since August, leave things better than we found it,” Palomares said.