Voting opened on Monday, April 29 for a series of 340 amendments to the Undergraduate Student Government constitution announced Sunday evening on the USG website.
The amendments range from changes as small as switching a comma to a semicolon, to as large as removing class representatives from the executive branch to the senate. Of the 340, 63 will change the constitution beyond simple wording and grammar.
It is unusual for punctuation and grammar changes to constitute constitutional amendments. One type of amendment, repeated several times, actually changes the grammatically correct “his/her” construction to the more neutral-sounding “their.” Other wording changes are more mundane, like changing the term “recognized” to “acknowledged.”
The USG provided a sequential list of the amendments in order they appear in the constitution, a copy of the constitution with the proposed changes and a clean copy of the constitution, which can be downloaded from the USG website.
Voting on the amendments is divided into 25 yes/no votes on SOLAR, each comprising between one and 50 sequential amendments.
Voting on the amendments closes on Friday, May 10.
Amendments 37, 44, 136, 216 and 159 remove the class representative positions from the executive council and replace them with four senators representing each class in the legislature.
They also remove the ability of these senators to vote on the Student Activities Board.
Amendments 105, 120, 204, 206 and 301 get rid of the club bureaus, which group USG clubs by function, like service clubs and cultural clubs.
The bureaus are chaired by executive council members, who are supposed to represent the interests of the clubs in the senate and executive council. Bureaus, however, aren’t currently active in USG.
Amendments 106, 126, 135 and 269 change the standing committees of the senate and appoint chairs from the executive council.
The current committees are Legislative Review, Academic Affairs, Elections, Programing and Activities, Rules, Referendum Standards and Budget.
Three of the seven committees, however, currently function as one committee called the Rules, Referendum and Elections Committee. Under the amendments, this committee would be combined with the current Legislative Review Committee to create the Rules and Legislative Review Committee.
The Budget Committee and Academic Affairs Committee would stay the same, but the Programming and Activities Committee would be removed, its functions likely assumed by the Student Activities Board, which is an executive agency.
Vetting and Communications would become a new committee, as well as the Special Services Council, an executive branch agency that reviews clubs applying for USG recognition.
Finally, the vice president of communications would be the chair of the Vetting and Communications Committee, the vice president for clubs and organizations would chair the Special Service Council and the vice president of academic affairs would chair the University and Academic Standards Committee.
It is unusual for executive branch officers to chair committees in a legislature. Currently, senators chair these committees. Senators would chair the Rules and Legislative Review Committee and the Budget Committee under the amendments.
Amendments 214, 226, 227, 258, 239 and 340 reduce the number of senators representing colleges from 20 to 16. The four seats being dropped would be allocated to senators representing the academic classes.
The amendments also change some of the requirements of being a senator. Candidates for the office would be required to be full-time students instead of maintaining the current requirement of six credits. Senators would also no longer be responsible for making monthly reports to the senate.
Executive Council Officers
Amendments 62, 124, 127, 133 and 134 make several changes to the responsibilities of executive council officers. For instance, the vice president of academic affairs would no longer be responsible for ensuring the effectiveness of faculty, and would instead become a liaison to the vice provost of undergraduate education.
The vice president of clubs and organizations is also currently required to meet with every club president each semester. One amendment would allow the vice president to meet with any club executive board members, resolving past problems of hard-to-reach presidents.
Amendments 275, 291 and 295 remove the Judicial Council of the USG judicial branch, which serves as a lower court and rules on issues not review by the Supreme Court. There are no definitions in the constitution of cases the Supreme Court cannot rule on that the Judicial Council can rule on.
Amendments 278, 279, 281, 283, 285, 286, 289 and 294 dictate that the chief justice of the supreme court is elected as an associate justice first, and then as chief justice. The nominating and approval requirements, however, do not change. This allows the chief justice to serve the designated one-year term, and then serve out the remainder of a two-year term as an associate justice.
Other changes include requiring the chief justice to give monthly reports to the Senate, raising the GPA requirement of justices from 2.5 to 2.75, and reducing the amount of time to appoint justices from 50 days to 30 days.
Amendments 317, 323, 324 and 327 require that officers who are to be impeached receive 48 hours notice of their impeachment hearing by the person bringing charges.
They also establish that impeachment of justices requires a three-fourths vote in the Senate first, and that the Executive Council would then rule on the impeachment by a three-fourth vote.
Amendments 102, 72, 87, 205, 207, 208, 211 and 264 remove the positions of recording secretary and sergeant at arms from the Senate.
They also give the executive vice president instead of the president the power to appoint a parliamentarian for the USG, who serves as an expert in parliamentary procedure to resolve questions of order.
Amendments 107, 184, 185 and 180 create the agency USG Media to replace SBU-TV, which was closed in 2011 by the SBU-TV reform act. USG Media will provide the same media services to the USG and clubs that SBU-TV provided, as well as other media services.
Amendments 38 and 39 remove the selection of the USG faculty adviser by the heads of the USG branches, and instead designate that the administrative director of the USG employed by the Division of Student Life will serve the function of a faculty adviser. Many other proposed amendments change wording to accommodate this change throughout the constitution.
Amendments 45 and 46 remove the requirement that candidates for USG office attend leadership workshops run by the USG before being eligible to be on the ballot. The USG has not run these required workshops in the past.
Amendments 10, 18, 180, 186, 273 and 302 change specific items in the constitution and are not related to other changes. For instance, amendment 18 allows the USG to remove funding from clubs that break USG laws.