The absence of student leaders from the fourth constitutional convention Sunday is perhaps more notable than the proposals introduced there. Missing from the meeting were the chairpeople of the Social Planning and Events Committee, Student Activities Council and United Minorities Council. Also absent were the convention delegates from the Nominations and Elections Committee; Interfraternity Council; Black InterGreek Council; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Alliance; Asian Alliance; Women's Alliance; Kite and Key; la Asociacion Cultural de Estudiantes Latinos Americanos and Performing Arts Council. Several special interest groups, who last semester demanded representation in the student government restructuring process, seem to be losing interest. But no effective structure can be formulated without their active participation. Despite the absences Sunday, business continued as usual. Convention delegates Jon Wachs, Dave Anderman, and Greg Shufro presented two separate proposals -- the first concrete detailed outlines -- for restructuring student government. The Wachs/Anderson proposal, which would significantly alter student government and is expected to form the basis of the new structure, incorporates most influential student groups -- many of whom are not taking part in the planning -- into the governing bodies. Any student government structure that could include such diverse and influential groups would be enormously powerful, but it will be crucial in upcoming meetings that representatives from groups such as the IFC, Women's Alliance, UMC and the LGBA voice their concerns with the proposal and actively participate in developing a government structure that diverse student groups can accept. The convention is being pushed along by a small handful of student leaders who have spent hours outside the meetings putting together detailed proposals. But before the proposals have even been debated, a rift appears to be forming within student leadership. Active convention delegates are upset by the lack of commitment that group leaders are showing. Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson Duchess Harris said she is "really aggravated" by the absences, adding that many of the delegates who attend "are only there to criticize and have had nothing to offer." Harris said that she expects that diverse student groups will want to become part of the new government structure because a unified front will better serve the interests of all undergraduates. "In the past, you would be hard-pressed to find the IFC, the Black Student League and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Alliance in the same room working together," Harris said. "But now with the new structure, differing groups will be fighting together. Can you imagine if the BSL and the IFC could get together on something, can you imagine the power?" Wachs said that even if the convention produces an effective structure, student government will not have power until the campus community decides to mobilize and take advantage of the unified front that student government could provide. "Only when people choose to mobilize and say something will undergraduates have power," Wachs said. "When the administration realizes that the government speaks for a large number of people, then the students will be taken seriously." Most student leaders who have been involved in the process favor the plan drafted by Wachs and Anderson. They say they will try to incorporate the best points of the Shufro plan into the Wachs/Anderman bicameral model. Already, leaders of some influential student organizations have said they are concerned that the reorganization of government will not help their groups. IFC President Bret Kinsella said this week that he is skeptical of a framework where student groups will have to place student government interests above the primary concerns of their individual organizations. The proposal calls for a bicameral legislative body to replace the current Undergraduate Assembly, and would dissolve the NEC. The student senate, composed of members from the special interest and student groups, would monitor student elections. The popularly elected student congress would control student activities funding and nominations to standing and ad-hoc committees. Trying to bring together 10 student groups that have such diverse agendas into the student sentate could bog student government down in internal bickering, rendering it powerless. Also, the size of the 65-person student congress, which would perform all legislative functions, could make it unmanageable. The UA, which currently fills this legislative role, is considerably smaller and its meetings are still sometimes chaotic. But the proposed structure, which redraws the lines of the entire student government system, has many merits and gives a springboard for future deliberation. By including a legislative branch composed of members from student groups, the government would encompass a broader constituency and a wider range of views. In addition, the suggested change to biannual elections would allow the government to maintain its momentum and not start from scratch each year.Comments powered by Disqus
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