Summer Slowdown, Summer Showdown [Part 1]

This legislative recap is brought to you by UP reporter Dylan Bouscher.

This summer FAU’s student government is breaking rules to fix rules — to a degree.

In order to change the SG constitution, a group of at least twenty people are appointed to meet and make amendments. The group is appointed by leaders in SG — anyone from student body president Robert Huffman, to any of the campus Governors, and even SG Director Heather Bishara.

That group is called the “Constitution Revision Commission,” (CRC) and it’s only supposed to meet “during January of 2010, and each fifth year thereafter,” according to the SG Constitution.

And although the CRC met in 2010 and the student body approved its amendments, they were never sent to the Board of Trustees (BOT) — FAU’s thirteen highest-ranking officials — for ratification. Changes to the constitution must be ratified by the BOT in order to become official.

Several in SG have their own suspicions as to why the Board never approved them. One of them even went on the record.

According to Boca House Speaker Boris Bastidas, the changes made during the 2010 CRC were never approved by the BOT because Charles Brown, the Senior Vice President of Student Affairs — and highest-ranking administrator in Student Government — did not agree with them.

Bastidas said Associate Dean of Students Terry Mena (Brown’s representative at Boca House meetings) had little to say about why the BOT never received the amendments:

Associate Dean of Students Terry Mena. Photo courtesy of FAU Media Relations.

“There were some disagreements about the amendments made,” he told Bastidas.

So when SG grew tired of waiting for change, they started making it on their own. Huffman went against the constitution, which only allows a CRC meeting once every five years, and called one this summer anyway.

The Boca House of Representatives, however, won’t even wait for the CRC to make amendments. In June, the House passed a bill revising statutes to make its own attendance policies stricter. Statutes are the rules that apply to the different parts and processes of SG. (See legislation below.)

One of the bill’s authors and the new House Speaker Pro Tempore, Rep. Jaclyn Broudy spoke about it at the meeting where it passed.

“A lot of this is the same people missing every time with the same excuses,” she said.

Then the House passed a bill fixing a contradiction between the constitution and the statutes this week.

One gives the governor seven days to sign a bill, and the other gives a president only five days. Since the governor must sign a bill before the president, it’s impossible for the president to sign it in time and go to Dr. Brown.

So the House passed a bill changing the constitution to give the SG President more time to sign a bill after the campus governor signs it. Simple solution, right? Wrong.

For this bill to change anything in the constitution, it has to be passed by the Jupiter and Broward House of Representatives and the University-wide Senate. Then it’ll be sent to the three campus governors, Huffman, and Dr. Brown for their signatures. Then the constitution can be amended.

By passing this bill, the Boca House is skipping the CRC process and taking another route to amend the SG constitution.

By passing these bills the Boca House is also defying administration. Mena advised the House against changing the constitution on their own in late April. He read aloud the part of the constitution with the House’s powers and limits before explaining them to the House in his own words.

“This student body on its own cannot change those on the constitution and there is a process,” Mena said, adding  “I want to make sure that you can only speak on matters that will only affect the Boca Raton student body, but I’m not saying you can’t talk about other campuses.”

Mena is wrong. Any of the campus Houses can pass bills amending the constitution. In fact the Senate as well as any FAU student can propose amendments, according to the constitution itself.

Between the CRC summoning and the Boca House bills passing lately, SG can’t update its founding document fast enough.

Legislation

BRHB-12-14: “700 House Statutes Revision” was written by Jaclyn Broudy and Boris Bastidas. It passed the House on June 1 and revised the attendance policy for House members.

BRHB-12-15: “Last Minute Spending”  was written by Boris Bastidas. It passed the House on June 1 and allocated $12,120 to pay for FAU’s banners on Glades Road, t-shirts, a table cover, and scantrons.

BRHB-12-16: “Duties and Powers of the Student Body President — Round Two” was written by Jairo Montes, Jonathan Mustain. It passed the House on June 8 and amends the SG Constitution so the President has more time to sign a bill after the governor signs it.

BRHR-12-07: “New Study Building for the Boca Campus” was written by Clairemine Cyrise. It passed the House on June 8 and suggests the Board of Trustees consider building a new study hall on the Boca campus since two FAU campuses are set to close.

Stay tuned to Owl Watch for Part 2 when the CRC meets.

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5 Responses to “Summer Slowdown, Summer Showdown [Part 1]”

  1. A. Charles Says:

    It’s truly ludicrous to think that the CRC can only meet as per the constitution. The Constitution only mandates when the CRC MUST be called, not when it can only be called. With Treasure Coast closing, the SG Constitution becomes a dated document. So should we leave Treasure Coast in, the way the Court is set up, and everything else to have an incomplete Senate, an incomplete Student Court, and a House with no Campus? Heck no. The CRC is rightfully being called because the 1) it’s time to amend SG’s governing documents and 2) the process from the first time was not completed properly and still needs to be finished.

    And it is not a rumor as to why the Constitution was not sent to the board. The SVPSA did not send it the Board because he wanted some other things heard in the meeting but then President Maher did not want to call the body together because he believed the CRC could only be called during certain times and disagreed with what Dr. Brown was looking for in the Constitution itself.

  2. Another round of meddling by Dr. Brown, who needs to learn how to govern, not dictate.

  3. What you say, Mr. Charles, is up for interpretation. It’s a clear distinction of every 5 years. Despite the issues with Treasure Coast, it’s not something completely urgent. In my opinion, the BOT should be the one’s to modify our Constitution, and take Treasure Coast out. They have every authority to do it, and can do it a lot easier than we can. They shut it down, they should be responsible for taking it out of our documents. I would like to know, where in the Constitution does it say that the CRC must be completed in its entirety? I don’t see it anywhere. It says it’s to be called every 5 years, starting from 2010.

    I will agree with you and say, the Constitution needs updating and improvement badly. But, it should be done correctly according to law. All of this can be fixed by legislation I’ve proposed.

  4. […] OwlWatch Keeping an eye on FAU's Student Government « Summer Slowdown, Summer Showdown [Part 1] […]

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