By: Gerard Albert/Staff Writer
After announcing the merger between the two Student Government Councils, the Student Government Association has been holding committee meetings to edit the constitution.
The meetings, which plan to continue through September, are aimed at revising the current FIU Constitution. The committee’s aim is twofold, they are trying to make the document more understandable to students and to have the constitution reflect the merger of the two Councils.
On June 6, 2018, voting members from SGC-BBC and SGC-MMC met for the first of many scheduled Constitutional Revision Committee meetings. This introductory meeting, mediated by Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Anthony DeSantis, laid out ground rules for the meetings to come. DeSantis stressed that voting members should focus on unification and think globally.
Voting members include staff members Jerome Scott, Larissa Adames and Anthony DeSantis along with six SGA elected officials. Jefferson Noel, Jose Sirven, Jonathan Espino, John Habib, Javier Ortiz and Brandon Aquino are SGC officials from BBC and MMC. Content experts who are non voting members were also in attendance.
Procedures were reviewed and members had little to vote on as committee members and content experts listed off rules like “be respectful,” “have fun” and “be present.” The rules were written on a large board and signed by everyone in attendance. Something else agreed upon was meetings would be held at both MMC and BBC, a gesture that ensured the message of unity was clear to everyone. Council members from BBC sat across from MMC members, both parties said they were apprehensive and nervous but also that they were excited to get started on revising the constitution.
The next meeting, held at BBC on Friday, June 15, was scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. but began at 8:45 a.m. The meeting began with everyone in attendance signing a poster sized paper with the rules agreed upon in the prior meeting printed on it. The committee took time to work out logistics of the revision and voting processes before beginning to review the document.
Noel was the first to speak out on Article 1 Section 3 which states “Only the Vice President of Student Affairs has the power to alter this constitution outside the means for amendment it provides.”
Noel argued that there should be a system of checks and balances to limit the Vice President’s power to change the constitution and suggested the executive board to approve any changes.
Jose Sirven, president of SGC-MMC suggested that any changes to the constitution proposed by the vice president should appear before the Board of Trustees instead. The issue was tabled for later discussion due to the legal nature of the proposed change. Iris Elijah, who provides legal counsel to the committee was not present and therefore not able to provide her insight.
Proposed changes to Constitution details followed.
The first official change to the document came from Article 2 Section 3 which states “Students shall have right to…submit writs of certiorari to be considered by the Supreme Court; these shall include both grievances against SGA officials and/or petitions for legal review.” The voting members passed a motion to change “writs of certiorari” to “official complaint” in order to make the phrasing more understandable for students. From this change came another amendment; to add a definitions page to the end of the constitution in order to clarify the meanings of certain words and phrases.
Next came a debate about the definition of “student body” as it is mentioned in the constitution. Since the document was written before a majority of the programs currently offered at FIU existed, there were many questions as to what a registered student technically means. Some suggested it was whoever paid an activities fee, others argued that students in exchange programs and dual enrollment are still part of the student body even though they do not pay these fees. These questions were tabled for future discussion.
Photo taken by Gerard Albert