Constitution proposal up for vote


Author: Drew Jaffe

The Associated Students of Occidental College’s (ASOC) proposed constitution is open for voting by the student body until Friday. The proposal includes a change Senate approved Feb. 15 that would allow students who have served a semester on the ASOC branches of Senate, Honor Board, the Renewable Energy and Sustainability Fund (RESF), and the Diversity and Equity Board (DEB) to run for ASOC president. Under the current constitution, only students who have served on Senate for at least a semester are eligible to run.

This latest revision is part of a months-long process to develop a new constitution, the first draft of which was written last summer by a student working group put together by Director of Student Life Tamara Himmelstein. In this draft, there was no experience requirement for the position of president, which Himmelstein said would increase the pool of eligible candidates for president. Under the current constitution, only a handful of students are eligible for the position at any given time.

“I get the spirit of having credentials to serve such high-ranking roles like the president or the vice president of finance that have a lot of responsibility, but it really means that ten people can be president,” Himmelstein said. “What happens then is that people get forced into these positions because they’re the only ones eligible.”

At Senate’s September retreat, several senators questioned whether it was appropriate to remove the experience requirement given the unique duties of the president, according to Himmelstein.

Members from other branches of ASOC also weighed in on the issue when Senate, Honor Board, RESF and DEB met to work on the draft of the proposed constitution Oct. 28, Honor Board Juror Ian Hutchcroft (senior) said. They offered different views on what the requirements should look like, with some agreeing that the experience requirement should be lifted completely and others wanting the language from the original constitution to stay in place. Hutchcroft said people ultimately compromised on a requirement of serving at least one semester in Senate, Honor Board, RESF or DEB.

“Being ASOC president requires some preliminary understanding of the way the branches work and the structure of Senate and an understanding of funding guidelines,” Senate Vice President of External Affairs Savannah D’Orazio (sophomore) said. “And all of that comes with experience on the branches and we felt like, ‘Why limit it to Senate?’ when we think that the other branches also have a good grasp of it and also are just as good candidates.”

The experience requirement for vice president for finance in the original constitution — namely, that candidates must serve one term on Senate — was also removed from the proposal.

The proposed constitution also adds a GPA requirement of 2.5 for all students holding office. While the current constitution does not include such a requirement, Senate bylaws require senators and vice presidents to have a minimum GPA of 2.4 and the president a minimum GPA of 2.8, and Honor Board bylaws do not include a GPA requirement. According to D’Orazio, members of ASOC branches at the all-branch meeting Oct. 28 agreed to lower the GPA requirement for the president from 2.8 to 2.5. Senators discussed this change at Monday’s Senate meeting, agreeing that GPA was not indicative of a person’s ability to lead.

According to D’Orazio, while the experience requirement for president was discussed at the October all-branch meeting, it was not formally added to the constitution proposal until Senate’s Feb. 15 meeting following a vote in Senate. She said senators chose to vote on this revision due to the larger implications it might have, given that it would impact who could run for president.

For these changes, along with the rest of the proposed constitution, to be ratified, 20 percent of the student body must vote on it, with at least two-thirds voting in favor. If quorum of 406 votes is not reached, students will have the opportunity to vote again in April, Himmelstein said. Because students can vote on each article separately, it is possible that some articles will be ratified before others, and some will not be ratified at all.

Voting is open until Friday, according to Himmelstein, and she strongly encourages everyone to participate.

“Vote,” she said. “Vote, or shut up.”

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