Constitutional Council fails to reach consensus

By the

March 15, 2001

Members of the Constitutional Review Committee were unable to reach a consensus on a revised constitution for student government by the March 15 deadline. The CRC recommended that the Georgetown University Student Association assembly take no action, thereby reverting to the original plans of holding a referendum on the Yard Student Association constitution. The work the CRC completed on a revised constitution will be discarded.

The CRC was established at the recommendation of GUSA President Tawan Davis (CAS ‘01). The committee was composed of 15 students representing various campus groups, as well as Martha Swanson, Director of Student Organizations.

According to Yard Steering Committee member Jack Ternan (CAS ‘04), the Yard plans to incorporate suggestions of the CRC into its constitution.

In an explanation of the irreconcilable differences between the Yard and the CRC, the Yard Steering Committee said it had expected to reach a consensus with the CRC, but time constraints prevented final discussion of several issues.

One central point of controversy was the system of allocating funds to student groups and activities. Under the Yard constitution, students would be given a sum of money which they could direct to student groups of their choice.

The chairs of the CRC, Rob Bauer (CAS ‘02) and Jamal Epps (CAS ‘01) said this system of funding could not be approved because it violates University policy. According to Bauer, Swanson, as a representative of the administration, could not sign such a document.

Another contentious point was the process through which a student group must go to gain University recognition. In the original Yard constitution, a group could gain recognition with the approval of one faculty member.

Epps and Bauer agreed any group should be able to be heard at student government meetings, but that in order to have a vote, a group should have to go through a more rigorous and selective process.

Epps said he was discouraged with the outcome of the CRC. He and Bauer said they do not support the Yard constitution as it currently stands, though they said it is greatly improved.

“We tried to create a better document through dialogue. I do not think the Yard constitution is a better document; it will not improve student government,” Bauer said.

Matt Brennan (SFS ‘03), who represented the Yard on the CRC, said he supported every change to the Yard constitution made by the CRC. Brennan said he does not support the current Yard constitution. Brennan has stepped down from his position as spokesperson of the Yard Student Association.

The CRC met many times over the course of the past month and held open forums to gather feedback from the student body on the working draft of the constitution.

Though the CRC could not reach a consensus, many students said they thought the important discussion had been started.

“Overall the process went well. The Yard committee were really open to a lot of suggestions and made a lot of changes to the original document they came in with, ” Brennan said.

The Yard constitution, as posted on their website by 12 a.m. today, will be voted on by the student body on March 29.

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