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Student Senate fails to pass proposal

Maureen Reynolds | Monday, October 13, 2003

A proposal to change the structure and authority of student government failed to pass at Sunday’s Student Senate meeting.

Senators voting against the proposal, which failed 14-9 to gain the necessary two-thirds approval, cited concerns over changes in authority on certain budgeting issues.

The resolution, introduced by Student body president Pat Hallahan, would have altered the structure of the Executive Cabinet, which represents all student government groups except the Senate, to include four senators and allow the student body vice president to vote on resolutions.

The proposal would also transfer powers of budget approval and constitutional amendments to the Executive Cabinet and require the student body president to present all Executive Cabinet-approved constitutional changes to Senate before signing them into effect.

Prior to the vote, senators passed changes to the proposal, including the number of senators allowed sit on the Executive Cabinet and requiring the student body president to report to Senate on all constitutional changes approved by the Executive Cabinet before signing those changes into effect.

Senators voted on, but did not approve, removal of the clause calling for the Executive Cabinet to approve the budget, a change presented at Wednesday’s meeting and supported by Hallahan.

At Sunday’s meeting, Hallahan said that he believed senators should discuss that issue at a later time.

“I think we should address [the budget] later because it won’t even come up until March, and there are a lot of issues to discuss already,” he said.

The long-term goal of this resolution, said Hallahan, was to form a Council of Representatives from the Executive Cabinet, which would represent every committee in student government. Currently, the Executive Cabinet represents all the committees except the Senate.

Senators agreed on the need for a single committee, but disagreed about the extent of power to be granted to it. Their main problem concerned the amendment calling for the power to amend the constitution to be given to the Executive Cabinet before the Council of Representatives is formed.

“[The Council of Representatives] does not yet exist,” said Amy Chambers, off-campus senator, during the meeting. “If we want to make big changes, we should form the group first, and then give them the power [to amend the Constitution.]”

Hallahan disagreed, saying “If we say we want to wait and see, we will be saying ‘We don’t trust you,’ and that will create an immediate division [in student government.] Senate has all the power right now. All I’m asking is that power be given to a group that represents everyone.”

Other senators agreed with Hallahan’s perspective.

“I’m for [giving the Executive Cabinet the power to amend the Constitution] because I don’t believe Senate should determine the Constitution for every group,” said Knott senator Brian Agganis. “It’s surprising to me that we even have that power. It’s a major power, but it’s something we as a Senate haven’t even dealt with this year.”

After extensive debate, the resolution failed. However, Senators believe that there is hope for some form of the resolution to be passed.

“I think it was a very important resolution, and I still think there is hope that a form of it will be passed in the near future,” said Howard senator Brin Anderson. “I think a lot of Senators were uncomfortable giving powers to this group because they don’t know where it is going. As soon as there is a clear vision of where that is, I believe there will be approval of the resolution.”