In the last few days of January term, the Student Government Association (SGA) Constitutional Committee met to rewrite the SGA constitution. The group of 13 students was formed last fall after members of the student assembly expressed problems with the constitution. The committee gathered feedback and made major changes to the constitution. The structure of the senate, the class council, election procedures, and the name of the student government have undergone a near-complete transformation. The new form of student government is called Goucher Student Government (GSG).
Complaints about the old constitution and the old student government were wide ranging. Many students felt a lack of communication and connection to government processes. More specifically, students expressed a lack of transparency between students, student government officers, administration, and faculty. For example, Senate positions were only granted to clubs, leaving those students not involved without a voice.
“The old constitution stifled the voice of the student body by simultaneously burdening some parts of the government with obscene amounts of work, while other parts were left with almost no power or responsibility,” said GSG Constitution author Clay Berg ‘17.
“Elections were another huge issue,” said current Vice President of Communications Jennifer Pelizza. “The old constitution was poorly written, using language that did not describe the processes and roles of those involved in SGA.”
The structure of the GSG is completely new to Goucher. The new government includes three branches: the Senate, the Club Council and the Student Empowerment Association (SEA). The Senate will be compiled of 24 students, who will be divided evenly between four councils: Administration Affairs, Staff Affairs, Alumnae/i Affairs, and Academic Affairs. Students will elect eight senators from the freshmen, sophomore, and junior classes by general vote each November. The senators will then serve the following spring and fall semesters. Though the structure keeps first semester freshman and second semester seniors from being able to serve as senators, it ensures they are aware of and committed to their role. Once the council is formed, they will elect a director to head-up the group.
Students will also elect a Senate president in November, who will assist in the appointment of a Senate secretary. The Senate will work to address the concerns of the student body and to create a sense of unity among students and between students and other members of the Goucher community.
The SEA will replace the class council. Each class will have four officers corresponding to four divisions: finance, activities, community building, and public relations. The officers of common divisions in each class will work together to ensure that the responsibilities of their division are upheld. A “captain” will lead each division and there will be an admiral overseeing the entire body. The SEA will work to create class unity by planning events throughout the year, creating a class budget and fundraising. The SEA will raise money as a single unit and will divide it equally between the four classes at the end of each year.
The Club Council will be made up of twelve appointed representatives from twelve randomly selected clubs and will serve a one-semester term. The Council will be responsible for listing and chartering all of Goucher’s clubs as well as organizing club rush. The Social Justice Committee and the Programing Board will both remain unchanged.
The executive board explained that intended to include more of the student body in student government and insure that the actions of the government reflect the desires of the college’s students. Deanna Galer ‘17, current vice president of finance, and constitutional author believes “the new structure will significantly increase campus networking and student initiatives.”
“This change is necessary and overdue,” Said Daniel Hertzberg ‘14, a member of the committee. “At a school this small we should be able to have this much power to change the system.”
Since the Constitution Committee produced its revised constitution,the weekly student assembly meetings have been focused on making the new constitution presentable for the student body because they are going to be asked to vote on the changes.
“Ultimately, we made this for you,” said Andrew Kruppa, vice president of student initiatives. “Everything that SGA does should be for you, the students.”
The executive board plans to release the new draft on March 24 but have not yet decided on a date for students to vote.
“We are at a crossroads, and the Constitution and GSG will help reunite the students with each other, as well as the greater Goucher community,” said committee member Molly Greenberg ‘16.