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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Senate approves Constitutional Review Committee proposals

Published: March 8, 2010
Section: Breaking News

The Constitutional Review Committee Sunday night released its proposals to amend the Student Union Constitution, which include a complete overhaul of the Union Senate’s structure. The proposals were approved by the Senate directly following their release and will now be put to a student body vote on March 18.

If the proposals are passed, the Senate would be replaced by two bodies, the Union Assembly and a Club Support Board (CSB), dramatically altering the allocation of Union power.

The Assembly would “serve as an advocate for the student body,” according to the proposal. The Assembly would also maintain the current legislative powers of the Senate.

Unlike the current Senate, the Assembly would not include representatives for each quad, decreasing the number of student representatives to 13, or by more than half. Representatives would be elected by class year or other constituencies including midyears or Transitional Year Program.

Union President Andy Hogan ’11 said he was “really excited” about the restructuring process, saying it would allow “less Robert’s Rules of Order” and “more one-on-one representation.”

One current power of the Senate the Assembly will not maintain is the power to charter, recognize and support clubs, which under the new proposal would go to the CSB. The board would be composed of one member for each of eight subcategories of clubs, ranging from service to academics to the campus media. The CSB would also include one Union executive board member.

“This [reorganization] will mean more collaboration between the Union and clubs,” Director of Community Advocacy Jenna Brofsky ’10 said

The other fundamental reform proposed by the committee would be a move to instant runoff voting. Instead of having multiple rounds of voting, under the new proposal students would rank candidates on a single ballot, meaning the winner of each election could be determined in one election.

Other proposals include renaming the position of Racial Minority Senator to “Representative for Historically Underrepresented Races” and renaming the corresponding position on the Finance Board; changing the name of the Union Judiciary to the Student Judiciary and expanding its pre-trial powers of mediation; mandating finance training for all Finance Board and Treasurer candidates; and having the Union Vice President appointed internally by the Assembly instead of being elected by the student body.

The report also recommends securing Students for Environmental Action and the Student Sexuality Information Service.

To view a copy of the proposed amendments, click here.