New Constitution Approved for SGA, Following Controversy

SGC-MMC President Alexandra Valdes speaks to senators at Monday's meeting.

Teresa Schuster / Asst. News Director

“We have a new constitution,” said Alexandra Valdes, the president of the Student Government Council at the Modesto Maidique Campus, at today’s senate meeting.

The constitution comes after months of discussions between FIU administrators, SGC-MMC officials and officials from the Student Government Council at the Biscayne Bay Campus.

It merges the two student government councils, creating a variety of new positions.

It was approved by FIU’s Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, Elizabeth Bejar on Monday morning. SGC-MMC Senators voted unanimously to approve accompanying changes to the SGA governing statutes at their senate meeting later that day.

No SGC-BBC officials were present.

“You’re now part of FIU SGA history,” Senate Speaker Janelle Fraga told senators.

Valdes called an emergency senate meeting for Tuesday Feb. 2 at 3:30 p.m., in order to fill the new positions.

The new constitution’s changes include eliminating the council president position at BBC, replacing it with a new Governor of the Biscayne Bay Campus, and reallocating senate seats between the different campuses and colleges at FIU.

The governor will be tasked with overseeing the BBC campus and managing several staff members there, but will have less power than a council president.

The changes to the constitution and statutes follow months of controversy when SGA officials and students from both campuses argued over representation and funding. Proponents of the merger said it would be more efficient and fair, while opponents argued it would give students from MMC power to control the BBC campus.

SGC-BBC Chief Justice Keanu Orfano told PantherNOW he stands by his criticism of the merger, but said he will not further oppose it.

“As it is now the official constitution…I support it,” said Orfano.

Senate Speaker Janelle Fraga said it was urgent to pass the constitution and merge because of impending budget deadlines.

SGC-BBC has been without a president since the summer, and currently only has three officials. Although they had tried to meet in the fall, administrators told them this was unconstitutional, while others disagreed. Either way, without being able to meet, SGA could not pass a budget.

This isn’t the first time a merger has been discussed. The topic has been broached in the past, proving to be highly controversial. Two years ago, talks between the two councils ended amid similar heated disagreements about representation and funding.

This article will be updated with more information on the changes and their impact.

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