Point of Order 1/21/15: Amending the A.S. Constitution Shouldn’t Be Dramatic

‘Tis the season for A.S. Council drama, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la. Don we now our slate apparel, fa-la-la … OK, maybe it sounded better in my head.
Finally, we’ve reached the point in this council’s term when everyone has decided who they like and who they don’t — and more importantly, who they’re running with this spring. With elections rapidly approaching, council members are scrambling to create a record on which to run — and that means constitutional amendments.

Like clockwork, A.S. Council has started to churn out amendments to the A.S. Constitution. The amendments themselves are largely meaningless. They’re typically adjustments to the internal workings of the council and its offices — things that are unlikely to affect the average student. These amendments do, however, serve as an important litmus test for the political state of A.S. Council, and occasionally, they even have an impact on people other than A.S. members. As a veteran of last year’s council, whose leadership so comically botched its attempt at restructuring, let me give this council some advice.

First, realize that updating and maintaining a constitution in an organization like A.S. Council should not dominate discussion. It is a normal part of any organization to change governing documents, and an inability to do so in an orderly and efficient way is indicative of much greater underlying issues. For those of you who are trying to make a point: Stop. Fewer people care than perhaps you realize. If an amendment is so controversial that you have to devote three hours of a meeting to discuss it, it’s probably just not a good amendment. Don’t waste people’s time.

Second, don’t rush it. I know I just said not to waste time, but there’s a difference. The previous council’s attempt at ramming constitutional amendments through was unsuccessful for a number of reasons. Chief among those reasons was that it failed to take enough time to gain support, particularly from the college councils, two-thirds of whom have to ratify amendments in addition to A.S. Council. Do not be so smug as to assume the college councils will “rubber stamp” whatever you send their way.

My third and final piece of advice is directed at the college councils. The ratification process for A.S. constitutional amendments could generously be called arcane. The life and death of legislation seems to hinge upon the personality of the college council considering it and their relation to whomever is presenting it — not the merits of the legislation. The way A.S. Council operates has little to nothing to do with how college councils operate, making the argument for college council ratification of A.S. amendments thin at best. The scrutiny college councils direct at A.S. constitutional amendments is unwarranted, so back off, y’all.

A.S. Council, your predecessors royally screwed up the process you are now embarking on. Learn from their mistakes. A council composed of just one slate is the perfect opportunity to create lasting and positive changes without the arduous political maneuvering that typically accompanies the process. So don’t fuck it up.

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