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Students to vote on separation of Senate, Class Governments

Students will vote on a referendum to separate the Senate and Class Governments in addition to voting for Class Council and U-Council positions. The voting period begins on Monday and ends on Wednesday.

The referendum, which was written by Class of 2014 Vice President Dylan Ackerman, reflects nearly a year of work for members of both Class Governments and Senate. It was originally proposed in the fall as part of a set of amendments to the USG Constitution; however the Senate did not pass the amendments.

The USG is comprised of a Senate and respective Class Governments, which work collaboratively to serve University students. The primary difference is that members of the Senate are elected to represent the undergraduate student body as whole, while the members of Class Governments are elected solely by members of their own classes to serve their class.

The current system allows for the Senate to review and modify the ways in which Class Governments operate. The referendum, if passed, will create a Class Government Constitution different from the Senate Constitution. It would eliminate the political hierarchy between the two governing bodies, as members of Class Governments will serve with members of Senate as political equals in USG.

“I’m glad that the referendum was proposed, and I think it would be a good change for USG,” USG president Shawon Jackson ’15 said, adding that his role as president would not change.

The amendment had two primary components when it was originally proposed in November after much discussion in Senate meetings: one regarding the separation of the two governing bodies and another advocating transparency and accountability. The latter part was unanimously approved in early December, and required that all four Class Governments hold monthly public meetings and report their respective budgets each semester, while the former was tabled indefinitely.

“I really do not see this as creating a situation where the Senate loses any authority,” Ackerman said. ”The aim is to ensure that officers for one class remain beholden to members of that class alone, as is the intent of the class Government.”

Ackerman added that the amendment would formalize the structure that he said is already in place in a more efficient way.

U-Council Chair Elan Kugelmass ’14 voted against the December proposal that was initially connected with this amendment, and said that he also does not feel the need for the separation of the two governing bodies. 

“The role of the Class Government is for each Class Government independently to make decisions affecting its class,” Kugelmass said, “and the role of the Senate, as I see it, is to make decisions that will affect the entire student body as a whole, including those decisions that have the same effect on each Class Government, and thereby having a universal effect on the students.”

Kugelmass went on to state that he believed the idea of having Class Governments come together undermines the Senate’s duties, as well as the desires of the trustees.

“I think it has been a very effective structure that we’ve had for quite a number of years now, and it would be a risk to see that changed,” Kugelmass said.

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