SG Amendments Approved for Real

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.

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3 Responses to “SG Amendments Approved for Real”

  1. Oh the irony! Says:

    There is much irony in the fact that after students voted an almighty wise committee of “adults” appointed by the Governor of Florida to oversee us “children” had to approve these monumental changes in the charter of an irrelevent and ineffective organization, SGA. It is a useless excersize in political simulation while convincing ourselves its something more.

    Just the fact that we had to vote on these trivial changes, only to have it mean nothing except receiveing permission to have it on the agenda of the most high and mighty Board of Trustees demonstrates why SG and the concept of SG is a waste of the students’ time and money.

    What do we really get in the end? We pay a certain amount of our tuition to have the “opportunity” to sustain and join a student club where we can simulate “politics” and C-SPAN and go home thinking we did something of value, when in essence SG does not. In fact, SG, as previous years have proven, is an incubator for the imitation and practice of the negatives of politics for those so interested in the titles and occasions to wear suits and ties. The same culture of corruption that permeates real-life politics has been cheaply imitated in SG year after year, and is that way in many SGs across the nation. This is because while the “children” squabble and undermine each other over their meaningless statutes and constitutions and other things which make them feel “political”, the real decisions are being made by the “adults”, a group of people receiving payback for political loyalty to the governor of the state.

    At the end of the day, the final word and say on everything meaningful in FAU is with the Board of Trustees. If students want any amount of proportional representation they need to take one third of the seats. Why 1/3, because the school is composed of three types of stakeholders: students, faculty, and staff, and the seats should be divided accordingly with each group electing from among itself.

    Think this is radical? The University of Barcelona has a university-wide parliament instead of a Board of Trustees or a useless, irrelevent, and powerless SG. In it students, faculty, and staff have roughly proportional representation. But perhaps this is radical for those who feel the students, or even the faculty, can’t handle the responsibility of governing a public university which they are apart of and only a mysteriously wise body of “community leaders” who happen to contribute to and share a Governor’s political affiliation can really make the place work for the public interest. And what a job they’ve done, throwing almost $600,000 on Lawrence Davenport, the same person caught stealing from the Milton Hershey School, and keeping the school’s presidency a reserve for the politically connected.

    The end result is that the Political Simulation Club (SG) winds up as a breeding ground for the irresponsible, corrupt, and ineffective “leaders” of the future who will utilize soundbytes and image consultants while parsing words and promoting political disengagement.

    SG, as a concept and institution, is a waste of the student’s time and money. Students can and should do better.

  2. I disagree with the above comment because student government has rock climbing, night golf cart rides, and gives away hot dogs.

    While the perception of “leadership” is in fact dubious and worrisome, SG itself and the job that it does is not.

    This just coming from a non-SG-involved (but SG-event-advantage-taking) alumnus.

  3. Oh the irony! Says:

    I can’t help but feel as if your reply proves the point I was making in my original post above.

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