Thursday, May 30, 2024

By-law constitutionality questioned at SA meeting

By Olivia Bousquet

Constitutionality was challenged at the two-hour long Student Association senate meeting March 30. Former Senator Ryan Ferguson challenged an executive by-law presented to the senate by Senator Lisette Linares.

The by-law would change the wording and voting procedures from Coordinator of Clubs and Organizations to Director of Club and Organizations. This change would have the position be elected by members of the senate rather than being elected by the student body, as it is now. The change in the law was an idea from the current Coordinator of Clubs and Organizations Bailey Dell’Erba. 

Linares read a statement from Dell’Erba at the meeting because she was unable to attend. However, in this document she said that the position holds a lot of responsibility, much of which she was not fully aware of when elected into the position. Her position requires constant professional contact with clubs, organizations, students and faculty members. She believes that the position is important enough to entrust in the hands of the senate when choosing who will fill the position.

Ferguson argued that if the by-law passed it would be unconstitutional because it should be a position elected by the student body and doesn’t uphold the SA constitution. 

However, President Ahmed Metwaly said that this law was not unconstitutional if it passes through the executive voting process. He agreed with Dell’Erba that it’s “not an easy job” and being chosen by the senate would ensure that someone professional will be holding the position. 

The SA adviser for the fall, Steve Matthews, did not take a stance on whether it should pass, but said it doesn’t violate the constitution. 

Some officers argued that the coordinator position already exists and has rules in place, like every other position. Former Vice President Kathleen Gill, who was in attendance as an audience member, also mentioned that by allowing the senate to choose a candidate, it takes away the voice of the students. 

Senator Nilay Vaidya proposed the idea of a hiring committee to oversee the candidates, and then choosing the most qualified to be voted on by the student body.

Current SA Adviser Jacob Avery said that the senate was circling the problem, but doesn’t understand enough of its legislation to propose ideas, like a hiring committee.

The senate voted the by-law down, in order to talk more before the next meeting and make any necessary revisions before presenting it back to the senate. The senate also voted down an executive by-law for director of activities because it presented the same changes as the aforementioned by-law. 

In other SA news, two members were appointed into new positions. At the time, Senator David Rakhymzhan was voted in as the interim vice president. Marileana Rodriguez was voted in as a new senator. Rodriguez said this was an opportunity she’s been “looking forward to for a long time.” She also worked with the Coordinator of Activities Laman Hanifayeva last semester, and she has been helping plan the Spring Festival. Metwaly then swore in both individuals.

Hanifayeva also presented for a budget transfer of $10,000 from Activities Coordination Board concert budget to ACB entertainment budget. The budget already passed through the finance board. However, Senator Omar Salidvar worried it “would set a precedent to move money from concerts to other things.”

Senator Carter Mosher countered that buses are expensive for trips, “especially if there were to be more trips to Salem’’ next semester. Hanifayeva also said that the budget change now would help prevent future changes. The senate voted and passed the budget transfer of $10,000. 

In club news, the Animation Club requested an approval of $800 for travel expenses to a convention in New Jersey. Members would buy their own food, merchandise and other miscellaneous expenses. The $800 would help pay for two hotel rooms, a van and gas coverage. The senate voted and passed the $800 budget request. 

The Dungeoneers Guild was also approved as a permanent SA club. The club has been active throughout the pandemic and has around seven in-person members with more online.

The senate also approved of a senate ex-officio position. 

In the president’s report, Metwaly said this election season is one of the most competitive ones in a long time. Ten percent of the student body needs to vote in order for the positions to be filled.

In the executive council report, a coordinator condemned the actions of an unnamed member of SA for saying “a disturbing comment” about someone running for a position. She said it reflected the SA poorly, and the individual responsible should apologize. Tabia Azeem, the person running for an SA position that “disturbing” comments were made about, said that the comment was not about her ability, but that her “gender cannot deal with the position.” She said she didn’t want to make a deal out of the incident, but it was upsetting to hear that from someone part of the SA.

For the senator’s reports, many senators attended events on campus. One discussion stood out by Senator Mary Stockman. She discussed getting CAs and CDs trained by University Police for crisis situations, such as someone being suicidal. 

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