A months-long effort to revise the Student Association constitution culminated with the release of a draft at Monday night’s Student Assembly meeting.
According to David Blair, chair of the Constitutional Review Committee, the proposed shorter constitution is designed to be more readable and easier to understand than the previous one.
“The document is a lot less dense and a lot less wordy,” said Blair, a senior majoring in mathematics.
In addition to the stylistic changes, the revised constitution contains a number of policy changes.
Some of the changes include changing the name of the Student Assembly to the Student Legislature; integrating the Financial Council into the legislature; creating a new committee within the legislature that will focus on student life and academic needs; changing the vice president of multicultural affairs to the vice president for diversity and inclusiveness, to better represent that the office also oversees organizations that aren’t traditionally considered cultural such as LGBT groups; allowing the executive board to veto legislation with a 5/6 vote; and requiring the Judicial Board to review all legislation for constitutionality.
It will also reapportion the seats held by each residential community in the legislative branch. Though roughly 39 percent of undergraduate students live off campus, OCC representatives will only make up 25 percent of the new legislature.
The proposed constitution would give each on-campus community five representatives, except Susquehanna Community, which would receive two, and Hillside Community, which would receive three. Off Campus College would receive 10 representatives for a total of 40 representatives in the legislative branch.
The current constitution allows six representatives per on-campus community, with Susquehanna having two representatives, Hillside having four representatives and OCC being allotted one representative for every 200 undergraduate students who live off campus, giving them 25 representatives.
Andrew Topal, vice chair of the Constitutional Review Committee, said that the reduction in the size of the body is in response to the historical vacancies in the body.
“Look at the number of vacancies this year, look at them last year, look at them the year before that,” said Topal, a junior majoring in political science. “It doesn’t make the Student Assembly and the Student Association look very good. It kind of makes it seem like students don’t care.”
OCC has 16 open seats, Newing College has four and Hillside has three. Susquehanna has no representative seated.
Jonathan Ganzarski, a senior majoring in geography, said that the rationale for the proposed representative reductions is “ridiculous.”
“Just because the group isn’t representing themselves, doesn’t mean that you should prevent them from representing themselves,” said Ganzarski, who formerly represented OCC in the Assembly. “The number of representatives should always be proportional to the number of people they are representing.”
But Blair, who is also the president of Off Campus College Council, stated that OCC would have four seats on the newly formed Finance Committee compared to the one representative from each of the on-campus communities.
Topal emphasized that this kind of criticism is essential.
“This is not a final draft,” Topal said. “We are looking for feedback and we are looking for people to tear this apart.”
Students who wish to provide feedback on the proposed changes can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.