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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Changes to SGA amendment procedure proposed

Campus Council approved a series of new amendments to the SGA Constitution at their meeting this Wednesday, April 9, including the creation of a Judicial Review and Oversight Committee (JROC), changing the process of amending the constitution itself, altering procedures regarding senator vacancies and other operational changes. Now that the amendments have passed Campus Council, they must be voted on by the student body and approved by President Raynard Kington within two weeks to take effect.

A campus-wide vote on the amendment will take place early next week, according to Reform Committee co-chair Peter Bautz ’15. The voting period will last for 48 hours, from midnight this Sunday, April 13 to 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15.

Bautz proposed the constitutional amendments to Campus Council with fellow Reform Committee co-chair Peter Aldrich ’15.

Amendments to the SGA Constitution currently require 60 percent approval by those voting in order to pass, with no minimum on the number of students voting.

One of the proposed amendments will alter that procedure: instead requiring at least 20 percent voting participation of the student body, with two-thirds approving, in order for an amendment to pass.

“This way you are always going to have to have more people voting than who signed onto the initiative to put it onto the ballot,” Bautz said.

Currently an amendment can be proposed by petition of 200 students. The new amendment would change that number to 10 percent of the student body.

Additionally, the amendment would require all future amendments to be reviewed by Reform Committee, where the language of the amendment could be changed with the consent of the author.

One of the biggest changes to the amendment process would be in ratification by the President. Under the current constitution the President must approve an amendment within two weeks of it being proposed.

Bautz and Aldrich intend to change the system to one where amendments would automatically pass, unless they received a veto from the President or a senior staff member. The two week limit would not apply and the amendment could be voted on any time during the semester in which it was proposed.

“The proper procedure as it stands today is inefficient and cumbersome,” Aldrich said.

“It’s important to change the procedure so that we don’t have people not following it,” he said, adding that previous SGA Cabinets had neglected to go through proper constitutional processes.

Another amendment proposed on Wednesday, the creation of JROC, has already been voted on by Campus Council and is on the books as a bylaw. However, Aldrich and Bautz wanted to ensure the permanence of the committee.

“We didn’t really have checks and balances at all,” said SGA President Thomas Neil ’14, “and I think this does it in a pretty sustainable way.”

The amendment involves creating a three-person committee to review constitutional complaints about SGA as part of a system of oversight.

“Realistically, we think they’re probably going to see two to three cases a year,” Bautz said.

He added that with the existence of JROC, students will have an appropriate outlet for constitutional complaints.

Both these amendments are partly in response to student complaints last semester about SGA and the constitutional amendment process, including then-Smounker Senator Max Mindock ’15, who proposed a judicial oversight amendment that was not ratified.

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