Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Students express concern over proposed constitutional revamp

Many students, including Student Association President-elect Julie Bindelglass and SA Executive Vice President-elect Jason Lifton, expressed opposition to proposed Constitutional changes released by four SA senators Monday.

Bindelglass, a sophomore, said she felt the proposed changes were done in secret, going against her commitment to transparency.

“While I am in agreement that reform is definitely necessary, I have some serious hesitations with regard to the approach taken,” Bindelglass wrote in an e-mail to the SA senate. “First and foremost, the work that has supposedly been going on all year was apparent to no one, as it took place behind closed doors and in secret sessions. For us to move forward as an organization next year, we need to work together to emphasize openness and transparency.”

Bindelglass added, “Offhand mention of [the new Constitution] was made throughout the year and the meeting was called in a very questionable manner — these things go against everything we are working for. With classes coming to an end and senate business having been apparently closed for the year, this is not the time to put forth a proposal of this magnitude, and with little consideration for others.”

Lifton, a sophomore, echoed Bindelglass’ sentiments.

“It is great that we have a strong group of people who are working to help the student leaders in the SA do their jobs better, but I feel that a drastic measure such as a new constitution must incorporate as many students as possible, and not just a group of senators,” Lifton said. “Going forward, I am excited to work with as many students as possible to take a look at the way that our organization operates.”

Jordan Chapman — a junior and the SA’s vice president for judicial and legislative affairs — said he too feels the changes are rushed.

“The year is almost over. Why the rush?” said Chapman, a junior. “Is it because the driving forces behind it won’t be here next year? This is why people hate the SA, and frankly, I don’t blame them.”

SA Sen. Steve Glatter, Law, said the proposed changes would do nothing to help the problems within the SA.

“Whenever things go poorly in the SA, people never think to blame themselves, wind up blaming the structure, and try to push through a new constitution as if that would save their legacy,” said Glatter. “The year I served in the Capp administration was both uniquely successful and the only one of the last four years when a new constitution wasn’t introduced — I don’t think that’s an accident.”

Phil Bianchi, chief of staff for EVP Kyle Boyer and Lifton’s incoming chief of staff, also disagrees with the method of pushing through constitutional changes.

“I think change is a good thing, but I dont think that this is the right way to do it,” said Bianchi, a junior. “At this time of the year the student body is focused on other things like finals and the summer. It isn’t right for a lame duck senate to push this legislation down everyone’s throats when nobody is watching.”

The proposed constitutional changes will be brought up before the SA senate Tuesday night at a special meeting to be held on the Mount Vernon Campus. If the SA senate votes in favor of the document, the changes will not go into place until they are voted on by the general student body. If a referendum is needed, it will take place in the fall when students return to campus.

Edit: 7:25a.m.

In response to the reactions from Bindelglass and other members of the SA, the four Senators who wrote the legislation said they were puzzled by the response.

“We were caught off guard and extremely surprised by the content of her message,” wrote SA Sens. Nick Polk, U-at-Large, Michelle Tanney, CPS-G, Michael Komo, CCAS-U,  and SA Senator-elect Jamie Baker, CPS-G, in an e-mail. “It was just this past Saturday, April 18, that we met with Julie for about an hour to go over the proposed changes. She gave us her unequivocal support for the legislation.”

The e-mail continued on to say that the work done on the Constitution was not meant to be secretive.

We first announced working on this in October of 2008. This is reflected in the article that was published in the Hatchet on October 16, 2008: Hatchet article Additionally, Senator Dobson posted on his blog on October 14, 2008, that efforts were underway to amend the Constitution. To get a wide range of opinions, we not only worked with current senators, but we have also with past and future senators as well. This includes Jason Karasik (At-Large-G Emeritus and current attorney), Brandon Sherr (CCAS-G Emeritus and 2L at Fordham Law), Andrew Salzman (GSEHD and VPJLA Emeritus) and Christopher Jenkins (CCAS-G and Parliamentarian Emeritus, alum of the Graduate School of Political Management). Additionally, we have brought in student leaders, regular students, faculty members, administration, elected officials, and unelected officials to write this document. There has been an enormous amount of time and effort put into this document. This was not done behind closed doors by any means. We invited senators to give us their input when constructing this document.

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