Home News Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

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Students will have a chance to vote on proposed constitution changes for both the Honor Council and Diversity Celebrations Committee (DCC) on Thursday, May 10.

To better reflect the changing purpose of DCC, the branch will be renamed to the Diversity Initiatives Support Committee (DISC). DCC Coordinator Krysta Wetzel ’18 hopes the new name will indicate that DCC’s mission extends beyond cultural celebrations.

“Our orgs want to be seen as more than just displays,” Wetzel wrote in an email. “We would like the name to change to reflect that we are more than just parties and dancing.”

One of the branch’s new goals is to ensure that organizations underneath the DCC umbrella will be fully funded. Previously, such organizations received most of their funding from the Student Organizations Committee (SOC), with DCC only able to fund cultural celebration events. Wetzel has been working with SOC Coordinator Tahir Ahsan ’20 and incoming DCC Coordinator Andrew Gonzalez ’20 to move all funding power to DCC itself.

DCC is currently home to many student organizations including Gay, Lesbian or Whatever! (GLOW!), Celebrate South Asia!, Cultural Union for Black Expression (CUBE), Presente and Karibu. Reorienting DCC to focus more closely on marginalized people is important to Wetzel, who wants to ensure that the branch can provide all kinds of support, financial and otherwise for groups overlooked.

“It is important that in [the Student Government Association] we have a dedicated branch that is specifically for those that are historically spoken over or marginalized or brushed aside,” they wrote. “We want our orgs to have agency, and the resources and support they need to apply that agency.”

That being said, Wetzel also emphasized that DCC is not simply an umbrella organization for any cultural student group.

“We want to specify that we are not just students of color, but also not for every culture/group of people,” Wetzel wrote.

New bylaws for DCC were recently approved by the student Senate, and Wetzel, Ahsan and Gonzalez are continuing to work on a policy manual to clarify DCC’s new responsibilities and operations.

Alongside DCC, the Honor Council is putting forward constitutional changes of their own. They plan to expand the council from nine to 13 members, adding a sophomore, two juniors and one senior. A first-year will still join the council during the interim of each year, bringing the Honor Council’s interim and spring term membership to 14.

According to Honor Council President Nick Tomhave ’18, expanding the council will lighten the load for current members, help prevent burnout and solve some scheduling conflicts.

“In order to hold hearings, five members of the Honor Council must be present and, in the fall (when our membership is nine members under the current constitution), this can be rather challenging as 55 percent of the Council must be available at the same time,” Tomhave wrote in an email.

The council also includes a faculty observer, whose title will be changed to faculty advisor to better match language used in the faculty handbook. The role itself will remain unchanged.

Another substantial change concerns confidentiality surrounding the student alleging honor code violations, known as the ‘implicating student.’ It is important for the council to be able to provide the accused with enough information to present an informed defense. But the confidentiality clause – “information that would reveal [the implicating student’s identity], will not be shared with anyone outside the Honor Council without the permission of the implicating student” – has made that difficult.

“In the past, our compliance with this clause has occasionally meant that implicated students were not provided enough information to defend themselves or, very rarely, to fully understand what they were alleged to have done,” Tomhave wrote. “The new language more explicitly outlines issues of confidentiality and information more explicit.”

Tomhave hopes that these changes will benefit all students involved with the Honor Council.

“We feel these changes reflect an equitable balance between the rights of implicating and implicated students, something we assert is an important consideration since roughly half of students involved with the Honor Council fall into the later category,” he wrote.

To read the proposed changes for both the DCC and Honor Council Constitutions, visit oleville.com

whitfo1@stolaf.edu