Last spring, the Point Loma Nazarene University student senate and Associated Student Body (ASB) Board of Directors voted to amend article five of the school constitution. This fall, the article will be sent out to the entire student body to be voted on.
The proposed amendment defines ASB personnel, outlines ASB personnel conduct and discipline and explains the review committee process that will commence if any ASB personnel fails to adhere to the student code of conduct.
Third-year philosophy and biochemistry double major Bailey Pickard served as the committee chair of the governance and documents committee last year, which evaluates the language and functionality of the ASB constitution. While she was chair, Pickard wrote article five, which started the process of implementing new changes to the constitution. This year, Pickard serves as ASB vice president and is in charge of running senate meetings.
“Student senate is the first layer of representation of the student body to administration,” Pickard said. “We deal with a lot of student concerns and bring them to the attention of staff, faculty and administration.”
Pickard said that she helped draft this amendment in particular because she recognized an unintentional gap in holding ASB personnel accountable.
“Currently the language of the constitution states that everyone in ASB leadership is supposed to sign a document called the student leadership lifestyle agreement (SLLA) and that’s the standard to which we are held accountable,” Pickard said.
While the SLLA was once a required document for student leaders to sign, it is no longer a commitment that ASB leaders have to make, according to Pickard.
“Right now we can be held accountable as students, according to the student code of conduct, but as ASB leaders we can’t be held accountable,” Pickard said.
According to Pickard, the proposed amendment does not set in place any new rules that students are required to adhere to. Rather, the amendment outlines what it looks like to formally hold ASB leaders accountable. The amendment presents the expectation that ASB leaders will follow the PLNU student code of conduct outlined in the student handbook, and if for any reason there is a breach, ASB leaders will be subject to a review committee of their peers.
Scott McGowan, PLNU’s director of community life, serves as the staff advisor to the student senate. McGowan shared some of the history of the student lifestyle agreement that Pickard referred to.
“This document [the student leadership lifestyle agreement] has not been used in a decade,” McGowan said.
“And it can’t be used because it actually doesn’t align with university policy anymore. It was a document that all student leaders across campus were expected to sign at one point,” McGowan said.
The student leadership lifestyle agreement is what ASB personnel are bound to through article five in the current constitution, according to McGowan.
“This is what’s so important about the governance and documents committee, because this is just emblematic of one of the many ways that the constitution was neglected for a long time,” McGowan said.
Under the leadership of Pickard, the governance and documents committee started the process of ensuring that the ASB constitution was up to date and aligns with current PLNU values and policies, according to McGowan. Article five is one example of a part of the constitution that needed to be re-evaluated.
“We are not raising the standard for student leaders or lowering it. The constitutional change formalizes the idea and desire that elected and appointed leaders of the student body should be behaving in a way that embodies the desired behavior outcomes of the mission of ASB and the mission of PLNU,” McGowan said. “In part, because the student officers who have initiated this shift have seen how officers substantially undermine the credibility and influence of the ASB when they do not behave that way, and make it incredibly hard for the rest of the organization to function.”
Kareen Boyadjian, fourth-year communication major, served on the governance and documents committee alongside Pickard last year.
Serving as this year’s committee chair, Boyadjian said, “It’s important for the student body to know that there is no favoritism [in this article]. Every person in leadership would have to go through it [the review committee process], so that everything is fair.”
Boyadjian shared that if someone in ASB leadership fails to follow the student code of conduct, the review committee that reviews their case will be made up of a jury of their peers. The students chosen will have to have no connection to the situation that is being examined.
“It could be one RA, one MOSAIC leader, one club leader, and the director of spiritual life or something. That way there’s no bias,” Boyadjian said.
According to Boyadjian, there is not currently a set date for when students will be able to vote to amend article five. Boyadijan said PLNU students can expect an email about the voting process in late September or October and amending article five will set in place the expectations for ASB personnel and outline the review committee process.