July 20, 2018 | ° F

Students call for direct elections

The Rutgers Student Union, an initiative spearheaded by members of Empower Our Neighborhoods, is forming a proposal, which calls for a directly elected student governance body.

The idea of a Student Union has been stirring since the formation of the Rutgers University Student Assembly two years ago, RSU Organizer Martha Guarnieri said. 

She said the emergence of the Student Union developed out of a number of concerns students had with the University.

"On a bigger level, a lot of problems that we've all been seeing within the University [are] classes being cut, programs being cut, professors that we love being let go," Guarnieri said.

She said the group aims to change the way members who sit on RUSA and the Allocations Committee, which is responsible for dividing money from the student activities fee, are appointed.

Currently, campus councils elect chairpersons to sit in on RUSA meetings and vote members of the assembly.

In addition, RUSA representatives appoint members to the Allocations Committee.

RUSA is in the process of drafting a new constitution, which would require members to be elected by students.

RUSA Chair Chris Keating said the concept of a Student Union is one worth exploring, and looks forward to working with them as RUSA moves forward with the constitutional referendum.

"However, for the amount of funds they are looking to accumulate, I would have to see better oversight and examples of fiscal responsibility," Keating said. "The Student Union would be dealing with a much larger amount of student fees." 

Guarnieri said RSU is working in cooperation with student organizations like the Latino Student Council and the United Black Council.

"We want to run a diverse slate of candidates for the RUSA election in the spring and then work from there," Guarnieri said.

She said the group will need at least two percent of the student population to sign a proposal for questions, which will be submitted to RUSA, and a date will be set for an election.

"In the same way that [Empower Our Neighborhoods is] creating a ward system for people to make change for themselves, that's what we want to do at the Student Union," Guarnieri said.

RSU will be holding its first general interest meeting Thursday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus.

Heather Brookhart

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