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Press Clipping: SGA Constitution awaits student ratification

SGA Constitution awaits student ratification

Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2015 11:15 pm

Seth Gulledge

Following the unanimous approval of the Senate, a new constitution making several fundamental changes to the Student Government Association is currently awaiting student ratification.

The new constitution will restructure the current three-branch system into a one-branch hybrid parliamentarian system.

The system will be organized into a large student assembly, the president and vice president being elected separately, but still serving as nonvoting members of the assembly. Certain roles that currently exist will be included, such as the attorney general and secretary, but will be elected by the Student Assembly or appointed by the president.

The rest of of the Student Body will be separated into committees, with executive directors appointed by the president heading each committee.

The change came after a American Student Government Association review revealed a number of flaws and loopholes within the current constitution and governing by-laws.

SGA Attorney General Nicole Cort said they were aware of the issues, and the original had simply been amended too many times to fit the needs of ECU for it to function properly.

“There was not much correspondence in between the two,” said Cort. “The constitution would say one thing and the by-laws would say another thing, and that would leave room for a lot of interpretation, which is never good.”

Both President Mark Matulewicz and Cort said the reasoning behind combining the branches into this assembly is to increase coherence within the SGA, encourage more cooperation between members and to create a blank slate on which to rebuild a system that will complement the university.

Matulewicz said the most important reason for changing to this system was to encourage SGA members to work more closely together as a whole instead of in individual branches.

“The most important part for this constitution is that all of the student government representatives are working together as a whole,” said Matulewicz. “With the new branch, it's constructed so that students are working together to achieve other goals and collaborating ideas.”

The proposed constitution was drafted this summer by Cort, alongside the Constitution Review Committee, composed of several members of the SGA including Matulewicz. The constitution was also reviewed by ECU administrators, including Kristen Bonatz, the associate university attorney and Associate Vice Chancellor Erik Kneubuehl.

In addition to restructuring the branches, the constitution will change the election system by implementing run-off elections and two-person tickets.

The new system will allow only candidates vying for the president and vice president positions to run together, and positions previously included on tickets, secretary and treasurer, will be elected by the Student Assembly.

The new runoff election system dictates that a ticket must receive a majority vote to win, constituted as at least 50 percent plus one vote, or the election will be extended between the two tickets that received the most votes.

Cort said these decisions were based on hopes to encourage candidates to run on platforms that better reflect their personal characters and ideas, rather than form platforms that reflect the common ideas of larger groups.

Cort said student interest played a factor in the decision, and said they hope the smaller tickets and simplified government will encourage students to take a larger interest in future elections.

Though the constitution has been approved by the SGA Senate and administration, it cannot become active until it is approved by at least five percent of the student body, which Cort said amounts to around 1,500 votes.

Cort said they are concerned with accumulating enough votes, citing last year’s Homecoming elections, in which barely 1,000 students participated. Voting will begin on Monday, Oct. 5, at 8 a.m. and end on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 5 p.m.

In order to encourage student interest, the SGA has partnered with Homecoming king and queen voting. Students can cast their votes for the constitution and the Homecoming king and queen on their Onestop during the polling times.

Cort said if ratified, the new constitution will serve as a skeletal structure, and multiple by-laws will still be necessary to make the structure complementing to ECU. She said if the constitution does not receive enough votes, it will go back to the Senate for another vote and be proposed again before the elections in February.