Promotion Blitz for New Rules Underway

    The next two weeks will be vital to supporters of student government reform, as A.S. Council President Harry Khanna and a special task force canvass college officials with their proposal to completely revise the council’s structure.

    Urgency is mounting, with the task force trying to distance the extensive overhaul from spring quarter’s elections. If approved, the new constitution would implement a bevy of structural changes to A.S. Council positions, requiring extensive changes to voting software. But most importantly, Khanna said, quick ratification of the document will allow councilmembers more time to identify deficiencies in practice.

    “We have to move on this,” Khanna said. “We’ve taken as much time as we could have. The longer we delay this, the less work we can do on it later.”

    Khanna and the task force spent this summer reassessing several strata of rules that apply to the A.S. Council, reconfiguring inconsistencies and rewording vague provisions. Khanna’s new plan includes political divisions by academic fields. Meanwhile, the number of voting college senators — who currently hold the most voting power on the council — would be halved. The move away from the college-based system of student government has garnered support from several councilmembers, who contend that the current structure is impractical.

    “I always associated myself more with the student organizations I was involved in rather than my major or college affiliation,” Vice President Finance Conrad Ohashi stated in an e-mail. “I don’t think many students associate themselves with a college once they’ve moved off campus anyway.”

    Khanna argued against critics that said that senators, as a group, would lose political footing with the restructuring. In the new constitution, voting powers previously granted to college-specific senators would be transferred to eight senators elected by the entire campus. The overall number of voting councilmembers would also increase.

    “Opening up these positions to the whole of the campus diversifies the issues that are being represented,” Khanna said.

    Many councilmembers have said that some sort of reform is needed, but the scope of such revisions have been a contentious topic. Change was “direly needed,” but the power of senator representation — college- or academic-oriented — should be lessened, former John Muir College Junior Senator Adam Grant publicly said to the council during its meeting last week.

    At that meeting, the reform’s exigency was again emphasized, with Thurgood Marshall College Junior Senator Kyle Samia imploring colleagues to first pass the new constitution, then utilize the amendment process to fix problems as they occur.

    Khanna endorsed such a trial-and-error process, and said that “anything we change now will be an improvement on what we have now.”

    “As a student government, we don’t have legislative analysts,” he said. “The discussion of the new rules will never be closed, so we need to move on it now to see what problems are down the road.”

    Revelle College Senior Senator Ellen Almirol, one of the few dissenting voices in the A.S. Council’s 22-2-0 approval vote last week, said that her vote was meant to caution her peers.

    “There are a lot of nuances that I know can be fixed as we encounter them,” she said. “At the same time, should we be advancing without the best set of rules we can compile?”

    Application of the new constitution requires ratification from four of the six college councils. This week, the rewritten constitution will be presented to the student councils of all colleges except Muir, which will consider the document next week, and Earl Warren College, which has already endorsed the document. Revelle College Council discussed the proposal on Nov. 7, and will vote on it next week.

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