In March, St. Cloud State University held its spring Student Government election which led to a presidential victory by Jack O’Neil-Como and his running mate Kayla Shelley. But the election also gave voters the opportunity to voice their opinions on changes the Student Constitution Committee was seeking for the Student Constitution.
The Student Constitution is a document outlining the basis of Student Government with topics ranging from the organization’s structure to a broad outlining of what power they can utilize.
Changes have not been made to the Constitution since the Fall 2010 election, which has made the ability to edit the document a challenge.
“Until this election, the last time we received enough votes to even make an amendment was Fall Semester of 2011,” said Constitution Committee Chair Devin Smith.
For the Constitution to be amended, it’s required that 8 percent of the SCSU student body votes in the general election and that the majority approves of the changes.
“Although 8 percent sounds relatively small, this amounts to between 1200 and 1400 students each semester,” Smith explained.
Admittedly, Smith believes the Constitution is difficult to amend, which he feels is fair for a document of this type. However, with changes potentially being delayed years, Smith feels this puts greater importance on ensuring amendments are well thought out when being placed initially.
The actual changes the Constitution will be facing are less severe than those proposed unsuccessfully in previous years.
“While previous Committee Chairs have looked to completely revamp the Constitution, our prerogative this year was to simplify the document,” Smith said.
Smith also said changes largely center around removing redundancy and cleaning up some of the finer details that have prevented the organization from adapting as it would have liked for years.
The 20 amendments that passed in the election help in reducing the Constitution from 16 pages to 12 pages. Smith said they did so, “without eliminating any content pertinent to Student Government’s structure.”
All of this comes in a hopeful attempt that the document will be easier to understand for those in Student Government and the rest of the student body.
However, some key changes will still be made – a new sub-section will be added directing users to the Student Bill of Rights, once a part of the Constitution, that will now become a separate document.
Information on how each constitutionally defined member of Student Government was elected and allowed to vote was once spread out through the Constitution. The recent amendments seek to consolidate this information.
According to the officially released information on the amendments, “one of the few true content changes,” faces the Student Constitution Committee. The University President was once able to appoint members of the Student Constitution Committee, but due to a lack of interest in previous years from the University Presidents, this option has been removed.
The official document Smith provided detailing the changes, also features a rephrasing of article IV.E.1. Pertaining to membership of committee members, it currently reads: “Committee members other than those on the Cultural Diversity, Fee Allocation, Senate Finance, or Student Constitution Committee are appointed by the Student Government in accordance with the Student Government Bylaws.”
The article will be undergoing changes, however, as the official document pertaining to the amendments states the “[current wording] was so convoluted and poorly phrased that anyone who attempted to understand it would feel their mind split in twain. Rephrased. No content change.”
Student Government meets in the Atwood Cascade room at 5:00 p.m. on Thursdays.