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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Students approve SA constitution

A special Joint Elections Committee announced Wednesday afternoon that students voted in favor of a new Student Association Constitution in last week’s special election. The new constitution will take effect Jan. 17.

The Student Court lifted an injunction Wednesday morning that was preventing the JEC from releasing the official vote tally. The JEC announced Wednesday afternoon that the referendum passed by a vote of 311 to 236.

Early Wednesday the Student Court ruled in favor of the JEC after sophomore Paul Roos filed suit against the election oversight body for alleged gross mismanagement of the election and failing to publicize the voting. The court ruled that while some of the election guidelines were not followed, the violations did not adversely affect the results of the election.

“Although the court finds that the JEC made significant errors and violated bylaws in publicizing the election, the court does not feel these errors ‘substantially affected the outcome of the election,'” the court found.

SA Sen. Chris Rotella (CCAS-U) was a major proponent of the constitution and said the certifying of the election results marks a new beginning for the SA.

“This document will definitely give students and student leaders a more efficient government that focuses on helping students,” said Rotella, a sophomore.

Major changes to the constitution include redefining the role of the executive vice president and the Student Court.

The EVP position will be separated into two positions; one the Senate would elect to chair the body, and the other would run on a ticket with the SA president and be a member of the executive cabinet.

The changes to the EVP’s role were instituted to ensure a stronger relationship between the SA president and EVP. Current EVP Morgan Corr, a junior, ran on the Coalition for Reform slate last May while SA President Audai Shakour ran against Coalition presidential candidate senior Ben Traverse.

Other major changes to the constitution include restructuring the Student Court by increasing its size from five members to seven. The court is now made up of four members with one vacant seat, but after Jan. 17, the SA president will have an opportunity to appoint three members to the Student Court, all of which must be confirmed by the Senate.

The new constitution also installs an appeals process in the Student Court allowing students to appeal the court’s decision if new evidence arises.

Perhaps the most controversial aspects of the new constitution deals with the elimination of the Joint Elections Committee, an independent election oversight body comprised of members from Program Board, Marvin Center Governing Board and the SA.

The new constitution allows the SA Senate to make all the rules concerning the election. The new constitution does not require that SA elections are held in conjunction with PB or MCGB.

Rotella said the changes allow for more freedom in how the elections are run. He dismissed the notion that it equates to increased power for the Senate.

“Elections aren’t going to change that much,” Rotella said. “The Senate has always had power to enact a new charter to replace old charter. That hasn’t changed.”

Jeff Goodman, vice president of judicial and legislative affairs, said the new constitution is dangerous because it gives the Senate too much power. He said the election was “horribly flawed.”

“Any day that brings the SA a step closer to having this be their governing documents is a bad day,” Goodman, a junior, said.

Some SA officials have said they are investigating another court case questioning the validity of the bylaws that were used to govern the election. If the court decides to hear another case, the result could void the outcome of the special election.

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