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With no revisions, student congress amendments are up for second vote

Amendments include redistricting, restructuring the judicial branch and possible stipends for student government

UPDATE (8:26 p.m.): The current Chief Justice has put an injunction on the results of the referendum until all honor court cases from this semester are complete, according to Student Body President Houston Summers. The proposed amendments would change the structure of the honor court, so all cases brought to the court this semester will go through the current process. 

Amendments to the Student Constitution that failed to pass in March went to a vote again on Wednesday. However, no changes have been made to the proposed amendments. 

Students have until 8 p.m. Wednesday to vote on the proposed amendments. These amendments would merge the Student Supreme Court and Board of Elections into district courts. It would also make the Graduate and Professional Student Federation an official governing body acknowledged in the Student Constitution. The speaker of Student Congress and the finance committee chair would be eligible for a stipend, and it would redistrict Student Congress representatives by academic year. 

“I think that for me, one of the most important aspects of this is kind of elevating GPSF to a governing body within Student Government,” Student Body President Houston Summers said. “I think that is probably going to speak more for helping student voice and clarifying all of that through our University as a whole, especially in an area that’s been drastically underrepresented in years past.”

Joshua Horowitz, a sophomore who has voted against the amendments both times, is concerned that the amendments would concentrate too much power in each of the branches.

“I don’t like the idea that the Student Congress would be able to appoint people to oversee Student Congress’ actions without say from other branches,” Horowitz said, referring to the selection of district courts.

The district courts would change the way people are elected to the judicial system, according the draft of the amendments.

“I don’t like that they’re switching it from the old system where the president would nominate people to the judicial system and the Congress would approve these nominations,” said Horowitz. “The new system would say that each branch would choose its own members without any say from the other branches and that when there was a dispute through the branch, the members that the branch had chosen would be the ones who would decide on the issues.”

Horowitz said he felt like the amendments gave Student Congress the power to oversee their own actions. 

“I don’t like that that would mean a branch would basically be choosing who was going to be determining their own disputes," he said. "I feel like that concentrates too much power in each individual branch.”

Though he admitted he does not know all of the details associated with the judicial system, Summers said the judiciary would be more efficient under the new system. 

Summers said that the funds for the speaker and finance committee chairperson's stipends would come from money Student Congress is given every year from student fees, but the amendment does not necessarily mean they would receive a stipend.

“In the constitution, they will be eligible to apply for a stipend, but this by no means is saying that both positions will actually get a stipend and will be paid next year,” he said.

Rachel Gogal, student body vice president, said these changes were a good way to make sure the Student Constitution was up-to-date.

“In all three branches, we looked at ways that we could revamp the constitution and make it more applicable to students,” she said.

Summers said the group drafting the amendments valued discussion with the student body.

“Obviously, because this happened close to the end of the year, there could have absolutely been more and more, but there was a lot of outside voice,” he said. “There was a fair amount of opportunity to be involved in that conversation, and a fair amount of outreach done on behalf of student government to kind of get a better idea of how these changes would affect our student body as a whole.”

Horowitz said he didn’t believe there was much conversation around the creation of these amendments.

“I haven’t really heard any discussion since the end of the last election and the second round now,” he said. “In fact, I’m not even sure why they’re up for election a second time.”

“I would like to see more discussion before another referendum if possible.”

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