‘Give this Constitution a shot’ was the message Nathan Shapiro, executive Vice President of the Undergraduate Student Government, gave to those at the Town Hall meeting held by the USG on Oct. 17.
The meeting was held in order to address issues that students have had with the proposed Constitution, as well as to provide a forum for proponents or opponents to it.
Shapiro made his case first. He went through some of the articles in the proposed Constitution and clarified certain points that it mentioned. In his speech, he noted that he does not view the proposed Constitution as ‘perfect in all respects’ but said, ‘in spite of it all, I agree to the Constitution,’ and urged others to vote for the Constitution if they agreed with the ‘majority of its substance.’
Robert Romano’s assertion was the opposite.
Romano argued that the explicit protection of clubs in the current Constitution was superior to the implicit protections in the proposed Constitution.
He said that the current Constitution has protections that go beyond the scope of Federal or State law. According to him, by not mentioning them clearly in the new Constitution, ambiguity arises. ‘Aren’t explicit protections like those in the current Constitution better?’ he said.
Romano argued that ‘more is more,’ in response to Shapiro’s ‘less is more’ defense of the more concise proposed Constitution. As a result, he urged students to vote against the proposal.
Others, like Matthew Anderson, opposed the proposal as well. ‘While the constitution does have several positive points, its negative points are unfortunately quite dangerous,’ he said.
He said that those issues should convince students to vote against the proposal, but that ‘the constitution must be revisited in a manner that deals with these issues and thus re-proposed in the spring semester.’
One issue Anderson highlighted was, like Romano’s, that of the funding for clubs and its regulations. He also said that the two-thirds vote for senatorial expulsion without judicial review subjects senators to partisan [bias].’
When it was time for the Q&A part of the meeting, many of the questions revolved around clubs’ rights, the role and power of the President (and the possible abuse of that power), as well as the relevance of a new Constitution.
One question asked was, ‘What was so glaringly wrong with the previous constitution that we had to make this new one?’
To this, Shapiro responded that he believes that the current constitution is ineffective on the basis of complex language, among other things.
He also said that he believes it is not as considerate of the students as the proposal is. He said its structure was based on an overreaction to some of the issues that were in the previous de-certified student government, Student Polity Association.
Also speaking at the Town Hall meeting was Jonathan Hirst, Vice President for Student Life, Programming and Activities.
While Hirst did not advocate voting for or against the proposed Constitution, he hoped that voters would make an ‘informed’ decision, disregarding all of the ‘worst case scenarios’ that were previously brought up in the meeting.
At the end of the Q&A, it seemed as though Shapiro, Hirst and Romano were able to clarify some unclear points or misunderstandings that those present had with the proposed Constitution.