July 16, 2018 | ° F

Constitution draft places RUSA vote in student hands

Over the break, Rutgers University Student Assembly Chair Chris Keating and Vice Chair Yonaton Yares, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, were busy drafting a new constitution for student government.

The previous constitution has a provisional period of two years, which expires in March, said Chair of the Constitutional Review Committee Ryan Cooke, a Livingston College senior.

"The new constitution will make student elections more competitive," said Keating, a Rutgers College senior. "They will be representing the entire New Brunswick/Piscataway body, not just their specific campus. With the integration of schools and introduction of the School of Arts and Sciences, it just makes sense."

The current draft, which will be reviewed by the former members of the Review Committee today and other RUSA committees throughout the week, grants legislative power to the assembly while maintaining the existence of professional school representatives and campus councils, according to the document.

"When the senators review the draft, I want them to be as critical as possible," Keating said.

The Review Committee was suspended Jan. 7, but the meeting today is an informal conference that will offer courtesy to the senators who put in hours of time in the review of the provisional constitution, Cooke said.

The current draft calls for each campus council to directly elect 12 members, three from each class, he said. From that group of 12, there will be an in-council election for a chairperson, who will represent that campus in RUSA, he said.

"It is important to still have a representative from each campus to officially delegate something that may be campus specific," Keating said. "Ideally, it is a leadership position that should be filled by a person with experience and seniority."

The in-council elections will result in six representatives in the senate.

Twenty-two at-large senators, who will also be directly elected by students, will join them, according to the document.

In order to accommodate the evolving University, the at-large seats will not be determined by geography as far as individual campuses but instead from the entire New Brunswick/Piscataway campus, according to the document.

"The point is to have the student body have the choice to directly elect their representatives," he said. "This is the most democratic means."

If the draft is approved in a popular referendum at the end of February, then the newly structured RUSA will meet bi-weekly on Thursday nights, he said.

"The benefit of this structure and schedule would allow students to address their issues at one place and time. Last semester, there were so many different meetings and committees that nothing got done," Keating said.

While the draft covers the policies of allocations, referendums and amendments, the major adjustment was in the restructuring of elections and RUSA's body.

"There are so many senators who are under impeachment for too many absences. This new structure will make elections more competitive and allow those students who really want to be a part of student government to do a good job," Keating said. "Senators need to be more accountable."

Sara Gretina

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