According to Joseph Moore, president of the Associate of Student Representatives, members of ASR recently proposed an amendment that includes several clauses to change the constitution, including changes that would affect its election calendar structure and the size and makeup of the Senate. Also of note are new developments concerning ASR and administrative funds allocated the previous year have arisen, as ten new water fountains and several new water bottle dispensers are now being installed on campus.
According to an email sent to Dean Tuttle on Feb. 8,concerning the water fountain project, seven new “glass fillers” are installed or will be installed in locations including the residence halls Thomas and Lightner as well as Chapman and Northrup. The email notes that these are the only the locations on the “priority list” where these new installations are possible “due to internal design.”
In addition, ten new water fountains were slated at that time to be installed within the next month in locations all around campus, including Coates, Herndon 2nd and Myrtle 2nd. According to Moore, these new installations are the result of combined funding split evenly between the administration and ASR. However, ASR representatives are currently focused on the possible constitutional amendment being voted on by students.
The amendment process began when the senators negotiated the multiple changes. The current amendment and its clauses were voted on formally by the senate and required two-thirds of quorum to pass. It was then published onto the voting ballots along with the candidates for class senators, vice president and president. The amendment requires a majority – 51 percent – vote by the student population to be enacted into the constitutioin.
The change to ASR’s calendar is one of the main amendments being considered by the student body. Previously, elections for ASR positions were held in February and March and the newly elected ASR body takes office in April. However, if the proposed changes to the ASR constitution are passed, the cycle will be much different.
“What will happen is the new Senate will get voted in with 20 senators starting in January,” Moore said. “Then at the end of the [Spring] semester, the seniors leave and the Senate shrinks back down to 15, and then a whole new election [begins].”
This new system will allow for an earlier transition of power, giving seniors the ability to leave their offices while still in school.
“Basically, ASR will go from January to December. I’m totally for it. Seniors in the second semester don’t always want to do ASR things,” said Claire Hoffmann, a senior majoring in economics.
While the calendar change is perhaps the most significant of the proposed changes, other significant changes are being considered.
“We’ve also expanded the Senate size from 19 to 20,” Moore said. “It’ll be five senators per class grade.”
The Senate size change is a significant departure from previous ASR bodies, partially because it is also a change in the makeup of the Senate, according to Moore.
“In the current constitution, every class gets four [senators], which adds up to sixteen. Now we have these three positions called Senator Outstanding. These three are supposed to represent everyone else,” Moore said. “They are chosen pretty much based off of if [they] didn’t win [their] class but still won a lot of votes anyways. We’re essentially getting rid of that with this new system.”
Other changes include the addition of a clause that would give the Vice President the responsibility and power to “schedule, prepare agendas for, preside over, and maintain the efficient and orderly function of all meetings and Special Assemblies,” which, according to the ASR constitution handouts given to voters, may signal a significant shift in the role of the ASR Vice-President.
According to Evan Lewis, a sophomore ASR senator and vice presidential candidate, the “guiding philosophy” behind the change is to transfer administrative duties to the vice president with the intention of “freeing the President to better pursue issues he or she finds important.”
Sean Solis, vice president of ASR, thinks that the changes are a step in the right direction for the management of ASR.
“The reasoning behind the amendment is that many in the Senate feel that the position of Vice President is under-utilized,” wrote Solis in an email correspondence. “Since the Vice President is responsible for overseeing the process of allocating the Student Activity Fee, it makes sense for him/her to preside over ASR meetings, because a large part consists of voting on funding requests.”
Solis also noted the limitations in the enhancement of the vice president’s powers due to the addition of the new clause.
“It will be up to the Senate to decide how much, and in what manner the VP can speak during meeting when it approves its bylaws for the term.”
Other proposed changes include the addition of a clause that would make clear the ASR President’s power of appointment with relation to the honor council.
“Technically there’s no discussion of honor council in ASR’s constitution even though we have the power [to make appointments], so we’ve added in a clause for the president’s appointment power to help make the recommendations for honor council,” Moore said.
Moore noted that the new language does not actually give the ASR new powers, but rather formalizes the standing arrangement.
“Now it’s just making sure it’s definitive in the ASR constitution,” Moore said.
Students can access the current version of the constitution at the ASR section of the university webpage.
Jeremy Keys is a news reporter for the Trinitonian.