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Leaders mull changes in student government

Matt Bramanti | Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Members of the Council of Representatives moved closer to changing the structure of the Student Union during their meeting Monday, as student leaders heard three proposals to reorganize student government. Members held informal roundtable discussions for the last two Sundays to discuss the details of the proposals, which have been in the planning stages for several weeks. “We need to have some kind of framework to look at,” student body president Pat Hallahan said.The plan that generated the most support would split most student government organizations into three councils: programming, policy and residential. The Student Union would still be headed by the student body president, but an additional vice-presidency would be added. One vice president would chair the programming council, which would facilitate coordination and communication among the Club Coordination Council, the Student Union Board and the class councils. SUB itself would be restructured to include representatives from each residence hall on campus.The other vice president would chair the policy council, composed of representatives from the Office of the Student Body President and the Student Senate. The residential council would include the presidents of all 27 residence halls, in addition to off-campus presidents. Under the proposal, the South Bend area would be divided into several off-campus regions, each led by a regional president.The Financial Management Board and the Judicial Council would remain autonomous units, reflecting their greater need for impartiality. CCC president Seth O’Donnell said that the CCC should also be a separate group, citing its duties to allocate student activities funds. “It’s important that we keep CCC independent. It has a huge financial responsibility toward the clubs,” he said.The Council of Representatives would be retained, though its membership would change. Both vice presidents would have seats on the Council, along with the head of the residential council and representatives from the class councils, the CCC, the FMB and the Judicial Council.Sarah Keefer, co-chair of the Hall Presidents Council, said significant changes are necessary to allow for high-quality programming and effective policymaking. “On the dorm level, there’s not a lot of communication between the programming and policy sides,” she said.Not all members were as optimistic about the new proposal, however. Student body vice president Jeremy Lao said the mix of elected and appointed officials might create conflicts. “My main concern is that this is not a truly representative government,” Lao said.

In other Council of Representatives news:u Hallahan drew names from a hat to select the Council’s ethics committee, which was established last week and will enforce attendance and ethics rules. James Leito, Seth O’Donnell, Sarah Blake, Jason Laws and Sarah Keefer were chosen. “[It’s] something we hope we won’t have to use, but it’s something we need to have,” Hallahan said.u The Council unanimously rejected an appeal for funds from the Asian-American Association. The AAA requested money to help finance this weekend’s Asian Allure event. The CCC recommended awarding no funding since the event is expected to be highly profitable.