The Associated Student Government (ASG) began the process of amending parts of their constitution for clarity during their Jan. 31 meeting. Two of four bills regarding constitution amendments were passed. The next two will be seen during their Feb. 7 meeting.
According to bill sponsor and Chair of Internal Affairs Elise Leonard, the bills must be passed by next week to allow the requisite three-week period for review by students before ASG elections begin.
Though changes to the constitution are made every year, this current undertaking is one of the most extensive. Leonard explained that while fixes made in past years were often grammatical, this year’s ASG wanted to fix some of the issues that arose in relation to the alleged unconstitutional conference committee and the grievances filed between Senator Richard Nguyen and The Criterion.
“These [parts of the constitution] have almost been treated like Monopoly rules. They’re only pulled out when something has gone wrong,” Leonard said.
Leonard and Senator Colton Rupple, one of the bills’ other sponsors, hope these changes will ensure the constitution is up to date and allow ASG to run smoothly in the future.
“I think one of the main goals was to make the constitution more of an outline, and the bylaws expanding on it,” Rupple said regarding the changes that the bills propose. With more specific information in the bylaws, committee rules and job descriptions can be edited by senators without as formal a process as a constitutional amendment.
Though each bill proposed many small amendments to the constitution, one of the most significant from the first bill was the rewording of the clause that became problematic during the investigation into Nguyen’s alleged threat to take away student fees from The Criterion.
The previous version of the constitution stated that campus media have the right “to engage in meaningful discussion of student issues without fear of financial retribution.”
Senator Jeff Vela, on the recommendation of Vice President Gabby Gile, proposed the amendment reword “fear of” into something tangible that could be proven in an investigation.
The constitution as amended after Wednesday’s process replaced “fear of financial retribution” with “without evidence of punitive financial retribution.” Leonard believes that the change will shift the discourse from emotion-based investigations, which are unlikely to be conclusive, to evidence-based ones.
“If this was like a real trial, you can’t base facts on fear. It wouldn’t hold up in court,” Leonard said regarding the previous version.
Two other mentions of “fear of” in the bill of rights section of the constitution were removed as well, in order to avoid confusion.
Discussion on the second bill mainly centered around requirements for the president and vice president. Though the bill proposed making a president and vice president have at least one year of experience with ASG before running, this amendment was struck down. The requirements now are only that both have junior academic standing at the school.
Though a third constitution bill was on the agenda, senators tabled the bill for discussion next week. Rupple expects parts of this bill to be the most debated so far since changes include the addition of extra senators and the absolution of certain positions.