By Samantha Robinson and Maya Brown
The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) will be hosting a town hall to discuss the proposed constitutional referendum on Wednesday, Nov. 13 from 1-2:30 p.m. in Frey Hall room 102.
The announcement was made on social media, where the Instagram and Facebook posts read, “We’re here to answer your questions and concerns.” The town hall follows the campus-wide email sent on Saturday, Nov. 9, which released the news of the USG constitutional referendum. Voting is currently open to students on SOLAR and will close on Friday, Nov. 15.
Major proposed changes to the USG constitution include abolishing the judiciary branch, changing student representation in the senate and eliminating required office hours for USG members.
A.T. Bianco, the vice president of communications and public relations and senior multidisciplinary journalism and digital arts major, said USG wants to hear what the student body has to say about the constitutional referendum.
“We really have put a lot of thought into this, and I think it’s important for everyone to understand our intentions,” he wrote via email. “Having a more operationally efficient student government will ultimately allow better use of the student activities fee as well. As USG, the student body is our number one priority.”
Former USG Associate Justice and recent Stony Brook graduate, Thor Hawrey said he believes the town hall needs students to participate in order to be helpful.
“I don’t think the town hall will truly be productive unless it is led by an intense line of questioning from non-USG members of the student body,” he wrote via Facebook Messenger. “If this doesn’t occur, I believe the town hall will be nothing more than an excuse for USG to claim ‘we gave the students a chance to voice their opinions on the matter.’”
Hawrey could not recall the last time USG had a town hall, but he has participated in senate meetings that followed the same format, such as the one following the cancellation of last year’s Back to the Brook Ashanti concert.
“That meeting was one of my least favorite moments in my time in USG,” he wrote. “The lack of accountability, professionalism, and shuffling of blame was disturbing.”
He went on to add that he believes USG has “a lot of issues” and the town hall will not be useful for students.
“I do not think it will fairly and adequately inform the students who decide to show up, let alone the rest of the student body,” Hawrey wrote. “From my time in USG while a student, I can unequivocally say that transparency and presenting all sides of a story are not USG’s strong suits.”
In an Instagram post from the official USG account of a video that summarizes the changes made to the USG constitution, user @jerudite914 commented, “Lol this [constitutional referendum] is extremely concerning. Also you aren’t providing nearly enough time for student feedback.”
Christopher Smith, a sophomore applied math and statistics major and a College of Engineering and Applied Sciences senator, said via email, “[The town hall meeting] has the potential to spark the kind of quality discussions that we should be having when it comes to something like a constitutional referendum.”
He added the town hall helps reach out to students who might not be aware of the referendum.
Smith said that USG approved the proposed changes for the referendum in about an hour and a half after an involved discussion in a senate meeting.
The Statesman will be live streaming the town hall on Instagram and Facebook.