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Council of Representatives: Members present model of new government structure

Matt Bramanti | Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Members of the Council of Representatives convened Monday night to refine their plans for the restructuring of the Student Union system. At the meeting, the group’s last of the semester, members presented a working model of the new student government structure.Outgoing student body president Pat Hallahan said student leaders would continue to develop the proposed structure. “It’s the not the final model, but it’s what you’re going to focus on next semester,” Hallahan said. The meeting was his last, as he will graduate in December, turning over his position to vice president Jeremy Lao.Under the broad proposal, a student body president, elected by the students, would lead student government. The Council of Representatives would be composed of 10 voting members, chaired by the president, who would only vote in the event of a tie. Elected members of the new council would include the student body vice president and each class president. The president would appoint members to represent the Financial Management Board, the Club Coordination Council and the Judicial Council. In addition, the president’s chief of staff and the chair of the to-be-created Campus Programming Council would sit on the Council of Representatives.The CPC would assume all campus-wide programming efforts, replacing the Student Union Board. In discussions about programming, council members have said that the current SUB structure is defective.”What we have right now is broken,” said SUB manager Charlie Ebersol. “We need to create something that makes more sense.”In the proposed model, 28 representatives – one from each residence hall and one off-campus resident – would sit on the CPC, which would be run by a steering committee overseen by an appointed chairperson.Members had differing opinions about how the CPC would be assembled, however. Under one plan, the CPC would have a body – similar to the current Hall Presidents Council – focused on dorm activities. In a competing proposal, hall presidents would meet informally to discuss those issues, while the CPC would focus exclusively on campus-wide events. It remained unclear exactly how residence halls would participate in the CPC. Some members called for dorms to elect a vice president, who would sit on the CPC, allowing the hall president to focus on dorm matters. Others, like HPC co-chair Sarah Keefer, said the proposal should include more hall leaders. “It takes a lot of work to do [programming]. Two people couldn’t take on the responsibility for dorm programming and campus programming,” Keefer said.Hallahan encouraged members to weigh the costs and benefits of the different plans. “We need to find a balance between one person doing everything and 900 people doing hardly anything,” he said.Director of Student Activities Brian Coughlin, who advises the COR, told members that the proposals’ differences could be ironed out, and should not stall progress.”The frustration you’re feeling right now might be unnecessary,” Coughlin said.All members agreed on the basic structure of the policymaking side of student government, however. That side, to be called the Campus Affairs Council, would effectively replace the Student Senate. The CAC-which would be chaired by the vice president – would consist of 28 members, one from each dorm and one off-campus resident. The group would be divided into issue-specific committees for the sake of efficiency.Lao was optimistic about the future of the Student Union. “We’re going to create a new student government that’s leaner and meaner, and we’re going to get stuff done,” he said.Ebersol wasn’t as positive, noting the slow progress of the restructuring. “We’re getting bogged down in titles,” he said. “We’ve spent three and a half months having this debate.”

In other council news:

u Members voted to increase the number of signatures would-be candidates must gather to run for student body president and vice president. Beginning next semester, a student must assemble 700 student signatures to be eligible for candidacy, up from 300.

u Judicial Council president Elliot Poindexter said his organization will hold an informational meeting for students interested in running for campus-wide office. The meeting will be held tonight at 7 p.m. in the Foster Room on the third floor of the LaFortune Student Center.

u Senior class president Jazmin Garcia said the class of 2004 will sponsor a Christmas party at K’s Pub and Grill on Wednesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. “We’re getting together to celebrate the end of classes and to get ready for the men’s basketball game against Indiana,” Garcia said. “It’s a toast to the Christmas season.”