The University of Dallas Student Government (SG) is in need of student votes in order to ratify the newly proposed constitution.
Very few students are aware of this important document that is essential to governing and running the Student Senate, as well as many UD clubs and organizations.
When freshman Peter Hedleskey learned that there was a constitution, he replied, “We have a constitution?”
It isn’t just freshmen who are unaware of the constitution. When Senior Luke Schwarz was asked if he knew about the SG constitution, he said, “Oh, well, I do now.”
In fact, almost no one except those familiar with SG were aware of its existence.
“That could have been said in orientation …” Hedleskey said. “I think that by saying that we’re now voting on this makes us go, ‘There’s a constitution?!’ And this makes us want to read it.”
Of the few people who know that the constitution exists, even fewer are aware that an entirely new constitution has been written and that students are supposed to be voting on its approval.
Why do so few students know of this? Some suggest that the lack of contact with students is the answer.
“If you are trying to get votes, you need to raise awareness,” Schwarz said. “Directly contacting students would be helpful.”
In fact, at the first SG senate meeting of the year, senators were asked to tell their friends about the constitution and to ask them to vote.
Many students were startled when they heard this announcement and wished that the information on the constitution was made available to all students.
To be ratified, 10 percent of the UD student population needs to vote, and there must be a simple majority in favor of the new constitution of that 10 percent.
This means that only over five percent of the UD student body needs to be in favor of the constitution to have it approved.
“We want to get it over 10 percent … I do really want to focus on contacting the broader student body,” Claire Slattery, SG secretary, said when asked about the extremely small approval requirement.
The chair of the Constitutional Revisions Committee, Thomas Mosmeyer expressed a similar sentiment.
“The fact that we have the 10 percent threshold is not something we’re proud of,” Mosmeyer said. “It’s out of necessity.”
Almost all senators who were asked about the low-voting requirement responded by saying that it was necessary because student participation is so low.
Freshman Senator Charles Ramsay saw the constitutional revision as mostly affecting senate procedure.
“It emphasizes the point that it’s not really something that needs to be voted on [by the student body],” Ramsay said.
What is in the new constitution? According to Mosmeyer, the revised constitution contains many much-needed changes.
“This is very messy,” Mosmeyer said the committee’s general reaction was. “Let’s clean it up.”
The revision is mostly aimed at making the senate run more efficiently.
According to Mosmeyer, the old constitution used to be about 30 pages long. The new constitution is much more concise and is only 18 pages long.
The new constitution consists of 12 articles and numerous sections of bylaws concerning the governance of the student senate, committees and their modes of operation, description of offices and duties, the operation of the Executive Council, and many other essential functions and rules for the senate’s operations.
A focus of the senate is ensuring that more students who aren’t senators know that they have power, too.
“It’s a critically tragic misunderstanding in the student body that students think they don’t have any power,” Mosmeyer said. “There’s a lot of power for the students. This new constitution makes it easy for students to use that power. If you’re tired of reading ancient texts in the Core, don’t worry, because this isn’t as confusing as Homer.”
To view and vote on the new UD Constitution, log on to Crusader Connect and go to the SG page. Once there, you can go to the forms and read the new Constitution.
New Constitution Breakdown
- The previous version had 15 articles, while the new one has 12, eliminating the articles on Student Programming, the Senior Committee and Elections/Impeachment
- The new constitution established the Executive and Legislative Branches, and leaves open the potential for the creation of a Judicial Branch.
- The entity formerly known as Student Programming at the University of Dallas (SPUD) no longer is attached to Student Government and will no longer have a representative on the executive council. Many of its duties have now been transferred to the Campus Activities Board (CAB)
- A vote in favor from at least 10 percent of the student body is needed for any amendment to the constitution
- The international population is newly recognized as a constituency that will have a representative.
- The new document spells out the powers of the Executive Council, which includes president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. For instance, it specifies their terms, which begin at noon on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, May 1, and last for exactly one year.
- Grounds for removal of a senator now fall to the senator’s own negligence, as evaluated by specific parameters. The previous version of the Constitution left the initiation of the removal to the Executive Council.
- Aspects of the old constitution, like the list of standing committees, have been changed to bylaws instead of being part of the articles. This will make them less permanent and easier to amend.
- The number of standing committees increases from three to nine. The Charter and Appropriations Committee, Election Committee, Mentoring Committee and Student Concerns Committee remain. The Sunday Sundaes Committee, Clubs and Organizations Grants Committee, Publicity Committee, Senior Committee and Christmas Initiative Committee are added as standing committees.
- The number of standing committees increases from three to nine: The Charter and Appropriations Committee, Election Committee, Mentoring Committee, and Student Concerns Committee, the Sunday Sundaes Committee, Clubs and Organizations Grants Committee, Publicity Committee, Senior Committee and Christmas Initiative Committee