Hello, everyone. This week for amendments to the Union Constitution, I will explain changes to Article III: Officers, Article IV: Student Senate, and Article V: Executive Board.
Article III of the Constitution contains notable amendments to its current state. The Graduate Council president and Undergraduate Council president have been removed as officers of the Rensselaer Union. The current officers are now the Grand Marshal, the President of the Union, the Judicial Board chairman, and the director of the Union. The J-Board chairman is new to this group, and was added to reflect the importance of the J-Board as a balancing force for both the Senate and Executive Board.
The position of Grand Marshal has been given a slightly different definition; the GM is now both the Student Body President and President of the Senate. These changes reflect the modern-day nature of the position, and how the responsibilites of the GM have evolved.
Most of the major changes in Article III are regarding the terms of office for the Grand Marshal and President of the Union. The GM’s term has been changed from a term of one calendar year to “a term beginning on the date of her or his election and ending on the date of the next general election for Grand Marshal.” The term for the PU has been changed in a much more significant way. Because an incoming PU isn’t able to select a new Executive Board immediately, they are forced to conclude the business of the previous E-Board for one or two meetings. During this time, the new PU presides over the old PU’s Executive Board. This hasn’t presented many problems in recent years, because the new PU is often a member of the previous Executive Board.
However, there is always the possibility that an incoming PU has never served on the E-Board, and would be unequipped and uninformed about the remaining business of the previous E-Board. To ameliorate this issue, the term for the PU has been pushed back to two weeks after the date of her or his election. During that two week period, the incoming PU will serve as president-elect, and they will be able to focus on choosing a new Executive Board. The outgoing PU will serve as president emeritus, and will be able to conclude any remaining business with the old Executive Board.
Other changes in Article III include the addition of language outlining the position of Judicial Board chairman, and the removal of the UC and GC president from the officers of the Union.
Article IV outlines the structure and purpose of the Student Senate. Despite many debates regarding this Article, it has remained relatively untouched save for a few key differences. The two Independent Council-appointed senators have been reclassified as Independent senators to reflect the dissolution of the Independent Council. As Independent Council president, I can provide some clarification as to why the IC elected to dissolve itself.
The IC has struggled with membership for years because it lacks a purpose to exist. It was originally created at a time when Independents found that their social and extracurricular opportunities were sorely lacking. Nowadays, the Union serves the intended purpose of the IC, and as such there has been little motivation to revive IC activities.
However, a lack of interest in the IC does not mean that Independent should not be given representation on the Senate. As such, the IC requested that the Senate hold general elections for both of the Independent senator positions, so that representation is maintained even as the IC dissolves.
The other major change to this section has been to the power and authority of the Senate. Prior to the change, the Senate was able to review the actions of the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council. This power has been removed, as both IFC and Panhel are constituted separately from the Union, and thus not under the Senate jurisdiction. The Senate has now been given the directive to create “legislation in accordance with the purpose of the Union.”
The composition of the Executive Board is the primary revision in Article V. The Union Constitution has been amended several times to increase the size of the E-Board, which currently has 15 members. After revision, the Executive Board will consist of a minimum of 11 members, with a maximum of 20. This will give a PU the discretion to choose an E-Board of a size that is suited to the challenges of a specific year. It will also allow each member of the board to have a smaller load of clubs to represent, enabling them to give more time and attention to individual clubs.
For the full text of the proposed amendments, please go to poly.edu/12311. If you have any questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.