On April 8, the Senate Ethics and Policy Committee (SPEC) outlined 161 potential amendments to the College Government (CG) constitution. Originally, SPEC intended to rewrite their constitution, using the CG constitution as a guide. “There are a number of things that SPEC does that aren’t necessarily outlined in our constitution that we wanted to solidify into actual text,” says Avery Lumeng ’21, SPEC Chair, “and the only way to do that was through rewriting our constitution.”
While analyzing the CG constitution, Lumeng and other members of SPEC found several errors that needed fixing. “Most of the proposed amendments focus on fixing spelling errors and changing formatting,” says Lumeng. “However, a few proposals involve changing current procedure or completely revamping some elements of the constitution.”
One of the biggest changes to the CG constitution is changing the nature and the role of the SPEC chair itself. Currently, the student serving in the position of SPEC chair must also serve as a voting-member of senate. Lumeng is the chair of SPEC and a senator for the Wellesley Debate Society. The SPEC Chair is responsible for monitoring the ethics of senators, and one of SPEC’s proposed amendments is making the SPEC Chair a non-voting member of senate who does not have to serve as a senator. “The role of the SPEC chair is to monitor the ethics of senators, and it’s kind of counterintuitive that they also must serve in the body that they are supposed to be monitoring,” says Lumeng.
Another big change addresses how difficult it is for an org to acquire a senator. According to Lumeng, “As the constitution stands, there is almost a year-long process for an org to acquire a senator.” She continues, “The process requires that you have a non-voting member attend senate for a semester, and then acquire a petition with at least 500 student signatures, and eventually that person will become a voting senator. Basically, that makes senate really hard to join.” SPEC’s proposed amendment encourages orgs who want a senator to reach out directly to the College Government Vice President (CGVP) or the secretary treasurer to find how to make that happen.
In general, members of the student body appear to be supportive of these new changes. Sophie Barowsky ’21, a current sophomore, says, “Honestly, I feel like if SPEC dedicated this much time to combing through the CG constitution, then these changes must be merited. As someone who does not closely follow College Government affairs, it’s interesting to think that the current constitution had this many errors that were flying under the radar.”
At senate on April 22, SPEC members continued the discussion about potential amendments proposals. SPEC proposed an amendment that would allow them to fix all of the spelling errors without requiring a vote. In addition, SPEC also proposed a new “senator at large” position, which would allow executive senators who served for a year to retain their title and voting power. In CG terms, there are three different types of senators: senators (who are elected by their constituency), executive senators (returning senators) and senators at large (who are executive senators that retain their title and voting power one year after serving in senate). The senator at large position was created for two reasons: 1.) to encourage upper-class students to return to senate and support new senators and 2.) to preserve some sort of institutional memory.
Voting members of senate will vote on the new amendments on April 29. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.