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The year-long constitutional convention to reform student government may be pushed into next year after delegates voted last night to ignore a March 7 deadline to submit their final proposal. After the meeting, Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson Duchess Harris -- who abstained from the vote -- called for a last ditch attempt to meet the original deadline by holding nightly convention meetings throughout this week. "I don't think this is going to go on the in fall," Harris said last night. "There would be no consistency if they continue [the convention] next year." Nominations and Elections Committee rules require all issues to be included the spring Undergraduate Assembly elections ballot be submitted by March 7 for the March 25-27 elections. But Harris suggested that a special referendum to adopt a proposed constitution could be held in April. Most of the other delegates joined a lopsided majority which refused to hurry the convention's efforts to meet the deadline. "We're not going to have a shotgun wedding," said at-large representative Tex Roper, a Wharton junior. Sue Moss, a convention delegate and Student Activities Council chairperson, said the delegates decided that the quality of their final proposal was more important than expediency. "This process cannot be done be haphazardly," Moss said. "It must be careful." Moss said that she would attend several of the nightly sessions proposed by Harris, but said that the group should not set its sights too high. "I think we should start with small reforms, ultimately leading to more constitutional conventions next year and finally a working, unified student government," the Wharton and College senior said. But delegate David Anderman said the vote was due to the delegates' fear of making important decisions. "I think it was a sudden reversal of what we were working towards," he said. "At today's meeting, people got scared because of the impending deadline." A shouting match errupted earlier in the evening's proceedings when Howard Radzely, the chairperson of SAC's finance committee, said that SAC finance should have more independence from the UA in any newly restructured student government. Much of the debate was sparked by concerns over how best to provide the Social Planning and Events Committee with contigency money. Delegates wondered whether it should come from SAC emergency funds or if the UA should retain special funds for such emergencies. Currently, the UA devides its nearly $650,000 allocation from the administration between the NEC, SPEC, SCUE and SAC. It retains a portion of the money to cover its own administrative costs. "We hit on a major nerve," delegate and Undergraduate Assembly representative You-Lee Kim said. "That is, how funds are going to be allocated." Emily Nichols, a delegate and chairperson of Connaisance, pointed to a lack of knowledge about how student government functions as the source of contention. "The UA does not need to retain a contigency fund," she said, adding that "SPEC is the only wildcard" and that changes in the funding structure should not be made solely on the basis of SPEC's funding problems. Some delegates feared that changing government to provide a larger role for elected officials in the doling out of monies to student groups might upset an already efficient system. Several leaders said SAC is one of the most effective government structures. "The fear I have is that a hastily-made proposal will be presented to the student body and threaten the structures that already exist," Moss said. Michael Gordon, a delegate at-large to the convention, explained that while SAC is effective, putting it under more direct UA control would not damage its ability to complete its mission. He suggested that requiring UA-approval of SAC decisions would provide a direct avenue for the student body, through their elected representatives, to be heard. "It's a check-and-balance," he said. "It gives them a chance to argue their case in front of another student group." But Moss disagreed. "UA members are there to lobby for the interests of the students," she explained. "I don't think they should be spending their time on administrative financial work. You're looking at money being tied up in an unnecessary bureaucratic layer that doesn't need to exist."

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