SGB to revise constitution, add diversity statement


Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

The University-wide shelter-in-place period ended as of 7 a.m. Tuesday morning. 

By Ashton Crawley and Rebecca Johnson

Student Government Board will vote Tuesday evening to advance changes to its constitution, including adjusting their definition of a student, adding a diversity and inclusion statement and changing the way vice presidents are selected. A majority of students must approve the changes through a referendum during SGB’s upcoming March 2 elections.

Ben King, an SGB vice president and chief of finance, said under the current constitution, the board member candidate who gets the most votes in the election automatically becomes the board’s executive vice president. The president then appoints two additional board members to serve as the vice president and chief of finance and the vice president and chief of cabinet — essentially creating three vice presidents, in all.

“In the proposal, there would still be three ‘vice presidents,’ but none would be determined automatically based on the results of the election,” King said. “All would be appointed by the president and approved by the board.”

King said this will greatly streamline operations by spreading responsibilities more broadly within the board.

“Currently the president directly supervises virtually all SGB operations, which is a huge workload for any one person and greatly limits the ability of the president to focus on their own initiatives and long-term planning,” King said. “This proposal will alleviate that issue by delegating a decent portion of the ‘day-to-day’ responsibilities to the vice presidents, leaving the president to focus on higher-level coordination and advocacy.”

SGB will also add the Student Organization Resource Center’s diversity and inclusion statement to the constitution, in order to reaffirm their “commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion in all programs.”

Another change is the definition of student in the constitution. King said SGB’s definition of “student” is important because it basically defines who the board represents, and who is eligible for SGB positions.

“The definition previously specified that only full-time undergraduate non-CGS students were the constituency of SGB,” King said. “Because there is no other governing body for part-time students, we have decided to delete the reference to full-time students and include part-time students in SGB.”

Despite these changes, part-time students are still not permitted to hold offices defined as “Student Government Board members,” which includes the president and all board members, committee chairs, committee members, all members of the Office of the President and appointed members of Ad-hoc Committees and Task Forces.

According to King, the first step in the process was a vote by the board last October to charter a constitutional review task force, consisting of representatives from all the different bodies within SGB.

“From last October through January, the task force has met regularly to construct a proposal for constitutional revision,” King said. “At the first public meeting of this semester on Jan. 26, the draft proposal was announced and we had a little over a week for public comment. The task force then submitted a referendum request to the Elections Committee by the due date on Feb. 2, and that referendum request is awaiting a final decision by the board.”

Under the current SGB Elections Code, changes to the constitution require a referendum vote. SGB will vote at this Tuesday’s public meeting to include the referendum on the upcoming March 2 SGB elections ballot. In order for the changes to take effect, a majority of students must vote in favor of the referendum.

“There is also a requirement that at least 3% of the student body participates in the referendum, but given the turnout rate in recent years that is unlikely to be a major issue,” King said.

King said changes to the Constitution are relatively infrequent because they require a referendum vote. SGB last revised the constitution in February 2018.

“There are several reasons we undertook this process this year,” King said. “Over the summer and fall, we conducted a thorough revision of the Governing Code, and that process uncovered some inconsistencies and gaps in the Constitution we wanted to address. We also wanted to make some changes to the internal structure of SGB to put a renewed emphasis on shared governance and streamline operations.”

Another proposed change will be to clarify the role of the SGB Assembly and establish it as a representative advisory body to the board. King said the details of how this will be implemented will be contained in the Governing Code, and the board is still working out the details on that proposal. The end goal is for the Assembly to be a group that the board can turn to for a broad range of opinions from across the student body, King said, and get feedback on various initiatives and proposals.

“This change is an attempt to give the Assembly a more clearly defined role in SGB,” King said. “Currently there is a lack of clarity of the purpose and function of the Assembly, and that has led to a lack of effectiveness of the body as a whole. It just doesn’t make sense to keep calling it a ‘lower legislative branch’ when it hasn’t passed any legislation in over 4 years.”

This story has been updated to more concisely describe SGB’s process for constitutional changes.