The year-long convention to restructure student government drew to a close last night as delegates reached agreement on an eleventh-hour plan. The proposal, hammered out in sessions held throughout this week, comes just days before the deadline for it to appear as a referendum on this semester's election ballot. The four-hour marathon session, which was marked by more focused debate than many of the previous meetings, centered on the proposal completed by several of the delegates. Some delegates pointed to the ticking clock as motivation for the proposal to be adopted. "It would have been a disgrace not to propose anything, after working for a year," said Sue Moss, the chairperson of the Student Activities Council. "Compromises came quickly and it became very productive." Some of the primary changes from the current system include methods of representation, nominations and finances. Much of the power within the new structure, known as the Student Government Association, will be vested in the representative body, or Undergraduate Senate. Members of the Undergraduate Senate, or US, will include 24 representatives, chosen by class standing, and five school representatives. One of the most contentious issues at the convention was the addition of student group representatives to the assembly. Fourteen umbrella-group representatives will be elected from within seven SAC divisions. The six members of the Executive Council will include a president, vice-president, communications director, comptroller, secretary and University Council representative. These officers will be elected from the US body. An election board, SAC, the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education,and the Social Planning and Events Committee will be "SGA subsidiary organizations." A compromise reached with members of the Nominations and Elections Committee allowed the split of its functions. Nominations will be handled by a US committee that includes US representatives and independent students chosen by the outgoing committee. "It really centralizes a lot more of the power into the Undergraduate Assembly," SCUE Chairperson David Kaufman said last night. UA chairperson Duchess Harris agreed. "It gives the UA power over the purse strings," she said last night. "It also includes student groups, which will increase interest in student government." Moss compared the new structure to a pyramid, with the new Executive Council at the apex. The new proposal was adopted by a vote of 12 for, one opposed, and two abstentions. It was not the unanimous decision many leaders hoped for at the start of this process in September, but still enough to accept the proposal. "All the heads of student government and all the umbrella groups were pleased," Harris said. "That's about as unanimous as you're going to get." But not all delegates were pleased with the outcome. At-large delegate Tex Roper, the sole delegate who voted against the proposal, voiced several concerns with the constitution. "In the euphoria of last-minute decision making, the delegates overlooked the simple reality that the status quo system was superior to that which has been hastily devised," he said last night. "I think communication is not the problem here," he said. "I think the problem is power and accountability." "The delegates are more concerned about failing to reach a concensus than they are about the merits of the proposal," he concluded. "It's unfortunate that this convention was more interested in the distribution of power than the distribution of information," Kaufman said. "This process should be bringing people together, not bringing them apart." The fight by student government leaders to have the proposal adopted is not over yet, however. "It needs to be polished in terms of style and writing," said Emily Nichols, an at-large delegate and the past chairperson of Connaisance. The final copy of the proposal, incorporating the changes made at yesterday's convention, will be posted at the UA's office in Houston Hall tomorrow for delegates to sign. It will then be voted on at an emergency meeting of the UA Wednesday, where it will need a two-thirds majority to be placed on the ballot in March. During the referendum, twenty percent of the student body must turn out. A simple majority of the votes is needed for the proposal to become official. The first representatives of the new government would then be elected in the spring of 1992, taking office in the fall.Comments powered by Disqus
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