The Plattsburgh State Student Association’s judicial board, headed by Chief Justice Adam Saccardi, came before the Executive Council Monday evening to present a draft of the edited SA Constitution, proposing a change to the way director positions in the executive branch are filled – a subject which became a topic of heated debate.
The proposed alteration brought forth by the judicial board would directly affect the way director positions in the SA are allocated. Instead of being elected, candidates would instead be appointed by the SA president, and his or her appointment would then be put to the SA Senate for a vote and require a two-thirds majority for approval.
The SA Constitution stipulates that the executive branch must include a minimum of five directors whose roles will be determined by executive by-laws.
The president and vice president account for the other two members of the executive branch.
“The Senate will be more keen on vetting these people,” Saccardi said. “Making appointments allows you to seek out candidates.”
Vice President Jessica Rappaport was first to question the modification, stating she was “not a fan” of the appointment process because she fears no one on the Senate would vote against the candidate appointed by the president, which would essentially give him or her the power to choose directors without any checks or restrictions.
“I see it as such a huge blanket for favoritism and corruption,” Rappaport said.
Vice President Sapoon Dutta echoed Rappaport’s concern, posing a hypothetical situation to communicate his apprehension to the Council and judicial board members. “If I’m President, I’m looking into my pool of friends for directors,” Dutta said. “Senators don’t say no to approvals, especially at their first meetings.”
“I don’t foresee students and senators changing,” Rappaport added.
Although the potential for favoritism was an issue for some, Senator Tyler Hargraves backed Saccardi, citing the lack of students running for SA positions as a reason to implement the proposed appointment process.
“We are already suffering from not having people run in the elections,” Hargraves said.
President Clayton also weighed in on the matter, supporting Rappaport and Dutta’s stance, stating he believes there is a risk of position appointment resulting in a “potentially less qualified person.”
In addition, Clayton noted appointing people to director positions may further hinder the general student body’s involvement in the SA.
“(The process) may result in people who are more discouraged from getting involved in with the SA,” Clayton said.
Despite disagreement between SA members on the issue, the results of Monday’s special election for the vice president of clubs and organizations was a bright spot at the meeting.
Sophomore communications major Taeko Kelly was voted into the position in a special election that generated over 400 student votes.
Although she is stepping into her role as the semester draws to a close, Kelly said one of her primary goals is to change how and when monthly reports, which she called “ineffective,” are submitted by clubs and organizations.
“Only half of the clubs are submitting monthly reports,” Kelly said, “and those that did are stacked up.”
In addition, Kelly said she is eager to work with her board, and is “excited to see the process of clubs coming to [their] meetings.”
“I’m excited to help with that process,” Kelly said.
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