Revising the SGA Constitution

Peter Nelson

The fate of the Student Government Association (SGA)’s most ambitious activity of the year seems uncertain after disagreement on the approval process of the new Constitution led to a walk-out at Tuesday’s Senate meeting.

According to senators present at the meeting, members of the Executive Board expressed doubts over the Senate’s ability to approve the new document as only four SGA meetings remain in the school year. The Executive Board also pointed out that current elections for SGA President and Vice-President are operating under the old constitution, but the individuals who prevail in the elections will be expected to serve in the different capacities dictated by the new constitution.

Other senators, including members of the Constitutional Revision Committee (CRC) charged with rewriting the constitution, were adamantly opposed to the Executive Board’s stance regarding the Constitution. They argued that the Constitution could be approved even as the school year draws to a close and pointed out the necessity of a new governing document for Colgate’s student government.

Tuesday’s Senate meeting ended without resolution of the topic. Some senators left before the meeting’s conclusion, leaving the Senate without a quorum – the number of members necessary to bring the issue to a vote. The meeting was adjourned, leaving the Constitution’s fate undecided.

The SGA has been working on a revised constitution since 2005, with the goal of making the student government more attuned to its constituents. The document’s primary innovation has been its ambitious expansion of senators’ roles.

The revised constitution calls for senators to be assigned to each residence proportionally, with each senator representing the same number of students. Senators will be required to develop more personal relationships with their constituents and will also have a broader role in introducing legislation to the Senate. Currently, most agenda-formation is created by the Executive Board.

This change is most evident in the creation of a new “Speaker” position, which identifies a senator to organize and advance the work of his or her peers on the legislative body.

The CRC has also focused on strengthening the Budget Allocations Committee (BAC), which is perennially short on cash with which to support campus activities.