In a sudden reversal, Todd Troester ’15 and his peers who requested the impeachment SGA President Hayim Wolf ’14 withdrew their letter of impeachment and called
for support of Wolf at the Sunday, September 29 student government meeting.
Rumors that the impeachment process had stalled circulated campus most of the preceding week, but until the meeting of the reformed senate began, it was unclear what conditions led to the change. The confusion heightened when an email reminding the student body of senate announcing that “the meeting will look past the impeachment process.”
“While I stand by many of the concerns voiced in the letter, after several meeting with Hayim I believe we are not as far apart in what we believe the SGA should be, how it should operate,” Troester said after Wolf invited him to the microphone. “[We] decided to work together to move forward and improve SGA and the Senate.”
Wolf spent the first minutes of the meeting outlining the Student Bill of Rights, which was reinstated by Executive Board separate of the rest of the constitution. The suspension of the Bill of Rights portion of the constitution had been of special concern to Troester and his allies.
Senate has now been reformed as Student Assembly, which will serve both as a forum for student issues and a committee for constitutional revision and will meet Sundays from 8 to 10:30 p.m. each week. Assembly will operate under a self-selected direct democracy. Any student may attend the meetings, and all students will receive a vote. However, if students do not regularly attend the meeting they will lose their vote.
The roles of executive board and the president will be slightly altered under the current system. The president will now be tasked with creating the agenda for each assembly meeting, and executive board will approve the agenda. Additionally, Executive Board members will write a description of their individual duties ,which will be posted on campus in order to improve transparency in student government.
“Student government must have a strong mission and a strong constitution to address the numerous issues we as students face” Troester said, offering President Ungar’s departure, the flooding of Welsh Residence Hall and the change in the sexual misconduct policy as examples of situations that deserve a strong student advocacy organization. Troester also mentioned the possible termination of the study abroad stipend—a change Troester claimed would not affect any current students.
Another issue Executive Board has been addressing in their meetings is the lack of student representation on administrative committees. Many of the students who sat on committees graduated last year, and their places are yet to be filled. Executive Board has decided to address the issue at Student Assembly. Executive Board specifically noted the possibility of changing the process of applying to committees and questioned sitting members’ accountability to the student body at student assembly.
Some students attending the meeting were intrigued by the new system of representation, but noted possible issues with the system.
“In theory, I think [the new format] accomplishes the needs of students who want to have a voice in the process,” Eric Sargent ’15 wrote in an email. “However, a self selected democracy has the downside of over-representing certain groups on campus while leaving others on the fringes of the conversation. It is also likely that a self selected democracy will represent those students who have initiative and not necessarily those that have the greatest need.”
Sargent also expressed relief that the impeachment process had altered course: “I kept noticing that both sides wanted similar things they were just approaching it from different perspectives.”