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Feven Getachew
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Michael Lozada
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Harvey Wilhelm
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Campus passes SGA Amendments

The student body voted this week to pass four amendments to the SGA Constitution that will increase Campus Council efficiency and provide oversight for SGA. The campus-wide vote is the latest step in the amendment process, which now requires only the signature of President Raynard Kington to officially ratify the amendments.

There were 117 votes cast for each of the amendments and all passed by at least 69 percent.



The amendment, which passed by the highest margin—94.02 percent in a vote of 110-7—provides language clarifying the procedure for appointing or electing an SGA senator in the effect of a vacancy.

“What’s different from before is there’s actually a policy now. There wasn’t one before, really,” said Reform Committee co-chair Peter Bautz ’15, who, along with the rest of Reform Committee, originally drafted the language for all four amendments and presented them to Campus Council last week.

“We’ve alternated back and forth between appointing and electing and it’s never really been consistent,” he said. “So this is trying to create some measure

of consistency for it and basically what it will do is kind of a balance of those two approaches.”

Jamaland Senator Misha Rindisbacher ’16 noted that the amendment clearly explains the vacancy policy, which was previously undefined.

“In the past it was unclear as to how a vacancy would be filled, if at all, and now it’s clear that if it’s in the first half of the semester it’s an election, if it’s second half it’s appointment by Cabinet,” he said. “I think that’s fair.”

The language of the amendment specifies that if there is a senator vacancy with six or more sessions of Campus Council left in the semester then a special election must be held within seven days in order to fill the vacancy.

If a vacancy occurs when there are fewer than six sessions of Campus Council remaining in the semester, the SGA President, Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice President for Academic Affairs will appoint an eligible senator, who then must be approved by two-thirds of Campus Council.

However, there is one exception.

“If in the initial election there weren’t enough people running, it turns to an appointment,” Bautz said. “We basically figured it was silly if you had, say, three people running for a three-senator cluster to basically hold an election in which the three people who were interested in being the senator had already run and were already senators.”

Vice President for Student Affairs and President-elect Opeyemi Awe ’15 agreed, noting the importance for SGA to publicize senator vacancies when they occur.

“It won’t replace the fact that when there is a vacancy in Campus Council—the execs, members of cabinet, have to be proactive in making sure people know that there is a vacancy and letting students know that there is this opportunity for them to serve,” Awe said.



Students also voted on an amendment which would change the process of approving future amendments to the constitution. It passed with 88.70 percent in a vote of 102-13.

The amendment will raise the threshold for passage of future amendments from 60 percent of voting students, with no minimum, to two-thirds of students voting, with at least 20 percent student body participation.

Under those rules, none of the amendments passed this week would have succeeded as the number of students voting this week was under 15 percent of Grinnell’s student body, rather than the 20 percent which will be required from now on.

“It’s going to be more difficult to pass constitutional amendments,” Bautz said. “And it’s designed to also create more long-term stability for [them],” he noted.

The amendment would also do away with the requirement that the College President personally ratify proposed amendments within two weeks of their proposal. Instead, the system would change to a passive one, where an amendment would pass in the absence of a veto from the President or a senior staff member.

“It didn’t really make sense that you should only have two weeks to get it done and signed and approved,” Bautz said.

Clangrala Senator Karin Yndestad ’17 said eliminating the two week rule will help create a more efficient system where students can vote on multiple amendments at once.

“A lot of the time it’s more efficient and you get more voter turnout, and thus a more accurate representation of what people want when you can vote on more than one at a time,” Yndestad said.

However, even with four amendments up for a vote by the student body this week, voter turnout remained anemic, perhaps challenging that assumption.



Another amendment requires the existence of a Judicial Review and Oversight Committee (JROC), which will adjudicate constitutional complaints from the student body if SGA has acted unconstitutionally.

This amendment passed 86-31, with 73.51 percent of voting students in favor.

“There is the perception, which may or may not be unfounded, that people in SGA can sort of do as they please,” said SGA President Thomas Neil ’14. “And I think this is a pretty solid step to at least give people a way to voice and vent that [complaint].”

JROC will function as a sort of “Supreme Court” for SGA matters and will take complaints from any student, adding a level of checks and balances to Grinnell’s student government.

The committee will be made up of the Presiding Officer of Campus Council, one faculty member and one student at large. According to Bautz, SGA is likely to hire the student at large by the end of the year and will soon send out an all-campus email with the application. They will also need to find a faculty member willing to sit on the committee.

“The plan is to have the hiring done by the end of this year, so that hopefully the committee will be in place by next year,” Bautz said.

Awe stressed that any students with legitimate complaints should feel encouraged to bring those problems to JROC.

“This is a mechanism and an opportunity for you all to air any grievances that you might have,” Awe said.



The last amendment voted on this week will eliminate an awkward procedural rule at Campus Council. Called the Golden Rule, it forbid voting on new resolu-tions until the week after their introduction, ostensibly in order to give senators time to think about the proposals.

In reality, the rule is typically waived.

“It’s already done in practice almost every single week,” Bautz said. “It just takes up time. It’s a time waster to have to sit there and vote on it every single time.”

The vote on the amendment was 81-36 with 69.23 percent of students approving.

This amendment changes the system to allow voting immediately unless at least two senators vote to invoke the Golden Rule. In that case, a vote would be delayed until the following week.

“It’s like an opt-in as opposed to an opt-out,” Rindisbacher said. “So that should make things faster.”

“We figured it was a low bar threshold to allow for the Golden Rule to be invoked,” Bautz said. “So in the event there is something … we can have that rule in place to delay voting to give people that week to think about it.”

Awe said the amendments will help to increase the operational efficiency of Campus Council.

“I think over the past few semesters Campus Council has been run more efficiently and the changes that we’ve been making are going to make the process more reasonable,” she said.

Those curious about the exact constitutional wording can find a complete copy of the SGA Constitution online at

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