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Members pass constitutional overhaul

Matt Bramanti | Thursday, April 1, 2004

It came right down to the wire.

With less than an hour remaining in their term, members of the Council of Representatives approved the new student union constitution. The document, which has been in the works all year, represents a complete overhaul of Notre Dame’s student government system,

Though the Wednesday evening meeting in LaFortune was briefly delayed because of a lack of quorum, members approved the 50-page document article by article,

One significant point of contention, however, centered on the proposed renaming of the Student Union Board, Notre Dame’s primary programming body. At previous COR meetings, some members had expressed a desire to change SUB’s name, citing incoming SUB manager Jimmy Flaherty opposed renaming the body and saying that any change would require expensive investments in new signs, stationery and other materials. Flaherty said the changes would cost nearly $10,000, a figure that outgoing SUB manager Charlie Ebersol, who supported the name change, disputed.

“These costs already exist, and replacing them would be frivolous,” Ebersol said. “The grand total of costs is not $9,998; it’s $1,517.”

Flaherty defended his numbers, saying they had been thoroughly researched.

“Charlie’s underestimating this,” Flaherty said. “When it’s all said and done, that $9,998 number is realistic.”

He also said the costs of a name change would divert scarce funds from SUB events.

“To throw a name change in there is really going to be a drawback to the programming,” Flaherty said.

Chief of staff Pat Corker characterized the debate as frivolous.

“I find it hard to believe that anyone outside this group … would care what the name is,” Corker said.

In the end, council members voted to change SUB’s name to the Campus Programming Council.

Following that vote, council members approved the remaining articles in rapid succession, making mostly cosmetic changes as they went along.

The last section to be approved was Article I, which transferred the power to amend the constitution to the Student Union Senate.

Members applauded after the vote, and outgoing student body president Jeremy Lao posed for a celebratory photograph with council members, a victory cigar between his teeth.

Outgoing secretary Meg Smith praised the new constitution, saying it will improve campus life.

“It’s been a lot of work and a lot of long hours,” Smith said. “But in the long run, it will be beneficial to the students.”

Brian Coughlin, the group’s adviser, praised the council’s work over the last year.

“The Council of Representatives worked very hard,” Coughlin said. “They have a lot to be proud of.”

As he prepared to hand his office over to incoming president Adam Istvan, Lao said the constitution is an important step in the continued progress of student government at Notre Dame.

“Improving the student union will always be an ongoing process,” Lao said.