Voting is around the corner for Point Loma Nazarene University students. This semester, the Associated Student Body (ASB) Board of Directors (BoD) and Student Senate confirmed changes to five amendments in the current ASB constitution. The PLNU student body will vote on these changes before winter break begins on Dec. 17.
Functional changes that are being made to the constitution include the reorganization of judicial proceedings, the ASB BoD review process, and clarification of language within the constitution.
Second-year biology-chemistry and philosophy double major Bailey Pickard is the constitutional survey head of PLNU’s Student Senate. Alongside Pickard, Scott McGowan, director of community life and advisor to the ASB board, answered The Point’s questions about the upcoming elections.
The Point: Give a brief description of what is being voted on in the ASB constitution amendment changes.
McGowan: Currently, the ASB has limited authority to adjudicate discrepancies in its business or officer conduct, mostly due to poor language in the Constitution. The approved changes remake this process in much clearer and more practical terms. The new process also puts Review Board membership selection in the hands of the ASB President and ultimately the ASB Staff Advisor. This will limit conflicts of interest amongst students in proceedings that are often sensitive while keeping final decision power in the hands of student leaders, not staff.
Under the confirmed changes, the BoD review process would become a reporting process that is much more collaborative with the Senate, rather than being strictly about oversight. Senators and the sitting BoD agree that this promises to make both branches much more effective. The elimination of the stipend review requirement brings the BoD in line with University policy, US national policy and removes potential legal risks to the ASB.
TP: Why were these amendment changes made by the ASB BoDs and the Student Senate?
McGowan: Constitutional changes ratified by an overwhelming majority last spring clarified the amendment process. Amendments now clearly start in the Senate and then must be confirmed by a 3/4 supermajority of the BoD before being printed in the school newspaper and finally put to the whole ASB for ratification.
Pickard: The Constitutional Survey Committee of Student Senate worked hard to implement changes we felt were necessary to ASB, and the changes we suggested were only the tip of the iceberg. We started with these, however, because they directly impact how the Student Senate, BoD, and other parts of ASB run on a very regular basis. These changes, though seemingly short in the grand scheme of the ASB Constitution, are vital to the structure of ASB Government and its functions. A breakdown of each Amendment and the explanations behind it will be available on the PLNU ASB website for the student body to review before they vote.
TP: How are students voting on these amendment changes?
McGowan: ASB members (fee-paying full-time undergraduate students) will receive an email ballot from the ASB President with instructions 10-30 days after the publication of this informational article. A 2/3 supermajority of those voting is required to ratify and adopt the amendments.
Pickard: Each amendment will be a separate yes/no vote on a single ballot, and voting will close by midnight the night the ballot is sent out.
Unofficial graphic representation of the voting process, courtesy of Bailey Pickard
TP: Why are students voting on these amendment changes?
Pickard: ASB stands for Associated Student Body (that’s right, ASB is ALL students), and the ASB Government is elected to represent the student body; therefore, changes to the ASB Constitution require input from the entire student body in order to ensure that the changes proposed by Student Senate and BoDs are truly what the student body wants.
TP: Overall, how are constitutions amended?
Pickard: Every Constitution is different depending on its context and who wrote it. The PLNU ASB Constitution has a very specific amendment process as explained in Article X. First, the amendments must be proposed either through a petition of 20% of the student body, or, more typically, the Student Senate with a simple majority vote. The amendments are then passed on to the BoDs who must vote within 2 weeks to confirm the amendments with a ¾ majority vote. Once the amendments are proposed and confirmed, the amendment is publicized to the student body through The Point, ASB media outlets, and emails from the ASB President. All of these things then lead to the student body’s vote to “ratify” the amendment(s) with a ⅔ majority vote, which is the final step in the process.