Attempting to set the agenda for restructuring student government at yesterday's constitutional convention, delegates instead debated semantics and sought to answer larger questions about the purpose of student government on campus. The two-and-a-half-hour long meeting, the first of six convention sessions, was sidetracked early on when Wharton junior William "Tex" Roper, a former Undergraduate Assembly member, questioned the convention's intentions. Roper said the convention's 24 delegates need to determine student government's function and the amount of influence it has over the administration before an effective structure can be established. "Until we know what powers we have, what powers are shared with the administration and what powers we should have, the carving up of these powers becomes academic," Roper said. Roper proposed that convention delegates draft an "inventory list" of student committees and the power they delegate before the group makes any decisions. Roper's proposal prompted a slew of other proposals and amendments to the proposals. Delegates questioned the convention's purpose and student government's influence over the administration. After extensive debate, the group resolved to prepare a list of the functions of the 40 standing committees appointed by the Nominations and Elections Committee. Additionally, Connaissance Chairperson Emily Nichols agreed to prepare a report outlining the powers delegated to undergraduates in the University Trustee bylaws. College senior Jon Wachs, one of the main organizers of the convention, said that he was disappointed that the meeting became "bogged down in procedural matters," but added that he hopes delegates will work together more effective at the next meeting October 7. "Hopefully, our brainstorming session at the next meeting will generate its own momentum and things will start falling into place once we have preliminary proposals to address," Wachs said. Delegates at the next meeting are expected to approve nine at-large members to be selected by the Nominations and Elections Committee. The delegates will divide into smaller "brainstorming" groups which will propose alternatives to the current government structure. Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson Duchess Harris said last night that the fact that she had to take over as moderator for Nominations and Elections Committee Chairperson Raffi Balian added to the convention's confusion. "The meeting wasn't everything that I expected because at the last minute I was forced to moderate," Harris said last night. "Therefore, I wasn't able to clarify some of the delegates' concerns because I was trying to be inpartial." Harris said that she expects a greater number of concerned, non-voting students to attend the October 7 meeting. Less than 10 non-voting students came to the meeting. Student Activities Council Chairperson Sue Moss said after the meeting that delegates will need to understand the "domain" and power of every student committee before an effective structure can be established. "I came here to work on structure, but the problem is that power and structure are inseparable," Moss said. "The most important thing that we need to come out of this convention with is unity. Every aspect of student government is connected and when leaders don't take advantage of this connection, students lose their voice."Comments powered by Disqus
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