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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Student Senate to vote on constitutional changes

Student+senator-at-large+Zach+Dobinson+%E2%80%9922%2C+who+served+on+the+Constitution+Review+Committee.+PHOTO%3A+MITCHELL+SHIELDS+%E2%80%9922%2FTHE+HAWK
Scott Taetsch
Student senator-at-large Zach Dobinson ’22, who served on the Constitution Review Committee. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

Proposal calls for three branches of government

University Student Senate (USS) will vote at their April 15 meeting on proposed changes to their constitution that would enact a three-branch government structure and rename the organization the University Student Government.

The constitutional changes include an executive cabinet, consisting of the president, vice president, treasurer, treasury assistant, secretaries of the legislative board and speaker of the senate. There will also be the addition of committees below each of the secretaries in the legislative senate, which will remain mostly the same. The third branch is the the judicial council, which will include three counselors appointed by the USS president.

“We wanted to figure out a way that we could make Senate more efficient, and we could be a resource for people to come and voice their opinions,” said Whitney Jones ’20, co-chair of the Constitution Review Committee (CRC).

The changes came after Sens. Jones and Adam Mullin ’20 and USS President Jason D’Antonio ’19 attended the Jesuit Student Government Association conference in January and decided changes needed to be made to the current structure of the USS.

“We did some reflection with our own structure and said we don’t know if we are engaging every part of our campus in the correct way or engaging every student in the correct way and our senators aren’t feeling fulfilled,” Jones said.

Mullin, the other co-chair of the CRC, said the proposal does not involve a com- plete change in structure.

“Under the proposed constitutional revisions, we separate out the powers a little more while still remaining a unitary body,” Mullin said. “Structurally that sounds like a big change, but we already have executive and legislative. We just call it all senate body.”

The legislative board will remain similar to what the current structure of the senate looks like with secretaries of Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, Mission and Communication. The change would add committees underneath those secretaries.

“Instead of creating chair positions, we turned it into committees so there is more of a collaborative sense to it,” Jones said. “There’s people who are appointed contact for certain places on our campus so instead of being a public safety chair, you would be a public safety point of contact, part of the student affairs committee.”

While these student points of contact (SPOC) positions allow senators to feel more engaged, the proposed system would decrease the number of SPOCs to only those who are consistently beneficial to the campus community, according to Mullin.

“We have seen that while there are times when they may need our input or support, it’s neither beneficial to them nor the student body to have one of our senators consistently setting up those meetings,” Mullin said.

Below the Mission Committee would be the Inclusion and Equity SPOC.

Some senators, like Hanna Neece ’19, secretary of Academic Affairs, believe the Inclusion and Equity SPOC needs to have its own secretary and committee instead of being one SPOC within a committee.

“I’d like to see it as its own secretary position on the e-board,” Neece said. “It would just be really helpful to have a secretary overseeing that [Inclusion and Equity] with people working in a committee with them. It’s a multi-person job.”

Zach Dobinson ’22, who was on the CRC, said giving Inclusion and Equity more power was a discussion that came up during the review committee, but senators decided that it would still have power even underneath the Mission secretary.

“Within the committee, there was definitely talk about a lot of people wanting to expand it,” Dobinson said. “But in the end, it didn’t necessarily move up to what other people wanted it to become.”

Mullin said it was mentioned to give Inclusion and Equity more power with a secretary position, but that suggestion wasn’t feasible with the current number of senators in the USS.

“With our numbers, to support the Inclusion and Equity secretary, we would need to add additional points of contact or chairs into the constitution underneath that and have room for more committee members,” Mullin said. “The numbers for elections are fairly strong, but they aren’t high enough. There wouldn’t be an election for most of the grades if we inflated the body more.”

Jones said it will be a good litmus test for the Judicial Council if the Senate wants to add the secretary in if the new constitution is passed.

“It is something that would possibly have to initiate into the constitution, to show that this document is a living document and it can be changed,” Jones said. “If we see something we want to be changed, we can do that.”

The vote will take place the day of the transition meeting when the 19th Senate will be inducted.

“The 18th senate will be voting on it, but it will be put into place for the 19th Senate,” Jones said.

Alex Mark ’20 contributed to this article.

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