Concerned About the Constitution
By Romen Borsellino '12, Columnist
Let me start off on a personal note: thank you to everybody who participated in last week’s elections. I was thrilled and honored to be elected. Rohan, a class act, ran an amazing campaign, and I cannot wait to work with him next year on implementing some of his great ideas about advising and orientation. My own personal involvement aside, I couldn’t have been happier with the voter turnout. There were over 800 votes cast, roughly 200 more than last year’s E-board elections. I know that the student body doesn’t always have positive feelings towards the AAS, but rather than just complain about it, students have shown their willingness to pay attention and actually let their voices be heard, as evidenced by the massive campaign support for both candidates in the races for President and Treasurer.

Senate went on as usual on Monday night with a few important points of business that dominated the meeting. A solid amount of Monday night’s meeting went into debating a new religious group on campus. This debate was not about the existence of a similar group on campus. Instead, it was about how we feel personally about the group. In the past, we have been firm about not making judgment calls. Last night, however, we seemed to be doing just that. Of the things I’ve seen on my three years in Senate, this was a first. While many, like myself, knew nothing about this group, one senator motioned to defund them because they represent a group whose ideology he disagreed with. This senator claimed that they are radical in their oppression of women, that they believe those outside of their religion to have no souls and need to be converted, and that by funding them, we would run the risk of offending many students. I personally cannot jump to the assumption that this group is oppressive or offensive, but more importantly, many religions hold radical beliefs which do not speak for all of their members. Even if the members of this group do believe all of this stuff, do we have the right to defund them because we disagree with their beliefs? Eventually, it was unanimously agreed on that we as a Senate should not be deciding which religions have more merit than others. The senator withdrew his motion to defund.

The second half of our meeting was devoted to one of the most important discussions I have witnessed at my time on Senate: The potential implementation of a new constitution which would officially take effect one year from now. Josh Mayer ’13, a former senator who resigned earlier this year, has written a new constitution for the AAS, and the student body will be voting next week on whether or not to adopt it and throw out our current one. I cannot stress how important this decision is. Our constitution is what governs the AAS, a body with a budget of over $800,000. Whatever the outcome of next week’s vote, the implications will be huge. While we discussed and scrutinized this new constitution, it was nothing more than a debate, for the student body as a whole will be deciding on it and not the Senate. Rather than allow the Senate to vote on it, Mayer chose to collect 250 signatures from the student body so as to make it a school-wide vote — I would speculate that he chose this strategy due to the fact that nearly every single person in our 32-member Senate and five-member Executive Board was opposed to the new constitution.

Opposition came for a number of reasons. One recurring complaint regarded the fact that many of the ideas in this new Constitution were good, but that there were too many glitches. Vice President Dolmatch referred to the new constitution as an “unfinished document.” One such glitch is that the constitution requires that the election for student body President is held on the third Thursday of March every year, which happens to be during spring break. But Mayer did not see this as an issue, stating that his new Constitution is merely the framework for something that will be fully developed with by-laws throughout the upcoming school year. Hopefully we would pass a by-law to fix the election glitch or I can’t see many people voting next year. I, for one, intend to be spending my spring break on the sunny beaches of Mexico without internet access.

Some arguments were not about the details but the real core of the constitution. Perhaps the biggest change from the current one would be the disbanding of all Executive Board spots other than the President. The Vice President, or President of the Senate, would instead be voted on by the Senate itself. The other positions which currently exist (Treasurer, Judiciary Chair and Secretary) would be disbanded and, instead, the student body President would be given the power to appoint whatever cabinet positions he chooses, as long as the Senate approves them with a two-thirds majority. Some senators claimed that this would take away power currently given to the student body and, instead, give it to the Senate, a process which was referred to as “undemocratic.” Mayer rebutted the argument, however, citing the fact that three of our E-board races were uncontested this year, which he thought to be even more “undemocratic.” Mayer sees this new Constitution as being the solution to a current system which has a number of imperfections.

Whichever way you vote on the issue, I strongly urge you to read the new constitution and really put some thought into your decision. Additionally, the Senate will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday night to give the student body an opportunity to discuss the issue with their senators. The decision you make next week will undoubtedly affect the future of the College for years to come.

Issue 22, Submitted 2011-04-13 04:25:52