Archive for December, 2008

SG Amendments Approved for Real

Posted in Rules on December 11, 2008 by Brandon

Yesterday the Board of Trustees, who oversee all major FAU decision-making, unanimously voted to approve the four amendments to the SG Constitution that were voted on — and previously approved by — the student body this past fall.

In fact, it was the only item on the agenda, and it was their last meeting of the year. President Frank Brogan said the meeting was important, though, so that the amendments would be in place for the upcoming spring election. He had high praise for the Constitution, too.

“I will say it’s as good as any in the state or across the country,” says Brogan.

I’m kind of curious how true that is, and might do a comparison at some point. But for now, casually, I took a quick glance at FIU’s SGA Web page. Though pretty, I can’t find their Constitution on it. Nor their statutes, though there is a section titled “Statues and Forms” that doesn’t have any statues, statutes, or forms. (It does have a budget allocation spreadsheet, to be fair.)

Our SG Web site, though just as incomplete as FIU’s, does at least list our Constitution and statutes. We’re still missing important campus statutes, the chapter 700s, but at least we have stuff up in public, and spell statutes right.

Constitutional comparisons aside for now, though, these are the amendments, per our SG Web site:

1. Constitutional Amendment for Error Corrections and Compliance. [ed. note: modifies the whole document]

2. Article IV. Executive Branch, Section 3. Duties and Powers of the Student Body President, would be revised to state that the Student Body President shall: E. Sign or veto legislation passed by the Senate and Campus Houses of Representatives within five (5) business days from passage and Article III. Legislative Branch, Section 5 Powers, Duties and Limitations of the Campus House of Representatives would be revised to state C.9. Override the Student Body President’s Veto of Campus-based legislation by a three-fourths (3/4) vote.

3. Article IV. Executive Branch, Section 5. Duties and Powers of Campus Governors would be revised to state that the Campus Governors shall: A. Sign or veto legislation passed by the Campus House of Representatives within five (5) business days from passage.

4. Article VI. Elections, Section 3. Installation of Officers, G. Oath of Office would be revised to state 3. All Student Government elected and appointed positions shall have terms of office of up to one (1) calendar year beginning upon installation and ending upon the installation of their successor.

What does that gobbledegook mean? Well, Student Body President Abe Cohen summed up the amendments for the trustees very nicely, calling them “very simple” even as VP of Student Affairs Charles Brown said they “enhance the student experience.”

Please let me know if these enhance your student experience:

The first is just “fixing grammar and spelling . . . minimal changes,” says Cohen. (If you want to go through the nitty-gritty yourself, here’s the modified document presented for the BOT’s approval. The Constitution starts on page 3.)

The second allows for “more collaborative work between the executive and legislative branches,” according to Cohen. It gives the president veto power, and the House the ability to override a veto with a three-quarters vote.

The third limits governor veto ability to “five days for legislation . . . to keep the process moving,” Cohen says.

And the last changes the “date of installation in office for a full year,” Cohen says. This is more of a clarification; in the original, a position that was elected or appointed for a one-year term was literally 365 days. Now it will instead specify it’s only up to one year, so that there isn’t a gradual pushback of the installation date year after year, especially if election timelines change.

The only question really raised about the amendments at the BOT meeting, by the way, was if even a student taking three credit hours could vote on them. This was raised by Trustee Armand Grossman, who also joked about personally writing the original SG Constitution “in charcoal” back in the day. “On parchment,” President Brogan chimed in.

And the answer was yes: Any enrolled student can vote, so as not to discriminate against students who aren’t full-time, particularly on satellite campuses.

Feel enhanced now?

Personally, I’m waiting for the next grammatical amendment. I hope it’ll corrects the usage of “they” as a singular pronoun, as in, “If a Chief Justice or Campus Associate Justice fails to attend two (2) court proceedings in a term, they shall be considered resigned from the position.” (Article V, Section 4, C.1) The correct way to avoid gender specificity is the tired “he/she,” or to make the sentence construction plural.

When they fix that, I’ll feel really enhanced.

How This Blog’s Gonna Run

Posted in blog-related on December 4, 2008 by Brandon

It seems clear to me that if you’re going to do any kind of journalism, you’d better like what you do — you can’t assume anyone else will. One reader has in comments already criticized the blog thusly:

“You might consider doing your research (“I’ll look into…”) and forming your opinions (“Sounds like…”) BEFORE you write your piece! And hopefully in the correct order, at that.”

Another reader — Treasure Coast Campus Governor Lauren Egan — has e-mailed me her disappointment that I’ve “convenient[ly] quote[d] to make someone look like they are being wronged.” She argues that I did not place the situation in context, and that, “As it stands, the article could possibly lead a student to believe that the TC House is trying to kick out elected representatives just to make waves or to be ambitious.” She concludes by offering an open conversation with me about it, which I respect and appreciate.

As I’ve said, I’ll follow up on that post. I’m sorry I haven’t done so quicker — for the record, I’m a grad student and I teach and have other responsibilities on top of taking my own classes. It’s also, as I’m sure you can all appreciate, end-of-semester crunch time. But, anyway, I’ve already gotten the opinion of another Speaker about it, and I’ll be talking to the appropriate TC leaders too.

What I’m not sorry for is the way I presented the information, which both comments suggest is incomplete. I think these comments show a need for me to say something about how this blog will work, what kind of “pieces” and “articles” I’ll be presenting here, and for me to give some examples of blogs covering politics in different ways.

Some treat the blogging medium as a place for news stories, not much different from printed news except for hyperlinks, as The New York Times does. Multiple authors, news as it happens. That’s one way, and not surprising for an established, old-fashioned daily newspaper.

Others operate as opinion columns, as Glenn Greenwald’s does over at Salon. Single author, focused daily commentary.

There are also blog-places for links and snippets that sometimes coalesce into bigger stories, but sometimes don’t, which is how Ben Smithover at Politico does things. Single author, news briefs rather than “stories.”

Still other blogs function as an amalgam of those types, with posts varying from links and one-liners to lengthy commentaries and dialogues between blogger and commenters. Here I’m thinking of a blog like Andrew Sullivan’s at The Atlantic magazine. Single author on wide-ranging events and issues, not always even “on-topic.”

There’s things I like about each of these — and I recommend them all — but the point is there’s no one way to blog about politics, and in a sense blogs are always works in progress. That’s even more true for new blogs like this one, where walking in with preconceptions can be upsetting all around.

So here’s a brief list of what I want this blog to be and not be.

It should and will:

  • Share news, political events, and conversations of interest
  • Encourage public conversation about Student Government
  • Be accessible, fair, and concise where possible
  • Take legit criticisms and address them
  • Offer something new at least as often as the printed UP, i.e. weekly or better
  • Presume its readers capable of shaping their own opinions, taking my word only for what it’s worth
  • It should not and won’t:

  • Be a place only for lengthy, “finished,” “stories” or “articles” (that’s what print is for)
  • Serve as a soapbox for me, SG leaders, or anyone else
  • Read like a mock-scandal tabloid or a PR-ish newsletter
  • Be updated with the frequency of the other blogs I’ve pointed to–this isn’t a full-time or even part-time job
  • Lay down the “gospel truth” of any matter
  • Fair enough, right? Just keep in mind I will make, admit, and correct mistakes. I’m not out to malign or misrepresent anything. Civil, constructive conversations–in person, by phone, through e-mail–are always welcome and, I think, are beneficial to the community. Governor Egan’s set a great example in that regard already.

    Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll continue to do so. And good luck with finals.