Parkside Student Government (PSG) won’t come up empty this holiday season.
Despite a December of controversy sending PSG, senators, and student reps into a frenzy, weeks of progress were gift-wrapped into a single vote: yes to the constitution.
On Wednesday, Dec. 8, the student senate voted by a two-thirds majority to pass the revised document. For now, the pressing issue has taken the next step.
“There’s been a lack of communication between those writing the constitution and the org reps,” said Ourlee Ourun, a senior senator. “Either way, it’s been passed. We need to move on, and do what’s best for the student body’s interest.”
PSG’s bylaws committee, chaired by senator Adam Spivey, spent several weeks working with the student senate to change the constitution effectively. Ultimately, one line of a multiple page document became the object of scorn.
The committee decided to eliminate senate seats provided to five organizations yearly: Parkside Asian Organization (PAO), Latinos United (LU), Parkside Association of War Gamers (PAW), Rainbow Alliance, and Parkside International Club (PIC). The remaining 20 senate seats are all elected by the student body. If the revision is put into effect, all students would have to go through the campaign process to acquire a senate position.
“It’s disrespectable not to allow them [students] to run for their own seats, and just hand them over,” said Spivey. “This definitely puts us in the right direction.”
The standard procedure for earning a senate seat begins with acquiring 100 signatures from students. Following further paperwork, students cast their ballots at UW-P’s April elections to determine who will become PSG’s upcoming senators.
While the senate body focused on a particular section of the constitution, there were a bevy of other improvements. The changes recognize PSG to have more authority in overseeing Student Life activities, it reforms how student organizations voice heir concerns to PSG, and it also makes amending the constitution much easier.
“The changes were necessary because of some division over interpretations of the last one,” said senior Dave Wilson, parliamentarian of PSG. “The problems included poor grammar and professionalism, and a need to reflect a contemporary view of our role in Student Life; also, reform of the Org Reps was needed, and other, more specific reasons.”
On Wednesday, Dec.1, PSG voted on the piece of legislation, but it failed to pass. The constitution was sent back to the bylaws committee for revision. During that meeting, plenty of dialogue took place between senators, org representatives, and PSG.
“It took a long time to get 100 signatures,” commented senior Garfield Davis, a senator and former marine. “At the end of the day, it’s about getting what you want, and if you want a senate seat, you’ll get a senate seat.”
Others, such as PAO president Linda Vang, still see the value in the extra seats.
“All I want from you guys [PSG] is for a representative to come to these organizations to tell us why you guys removed these seats,” said Vang. “I believe these seats are still really important because so many of us [PAO, BSU, LU] have served as org seat reps, and that’s why we’re student leaders today.”
“There isn’t one legitimate government body that gives a specific group a seat on their legislative body forever,” refuted PSG vice president Ron Beesley. “It doesn’t happen; it’s politically untenable. I understand that it’s tradition, but just because things have happened in the past, that doesn’t mean it should continue to happen.”
Following a week of communication between PSG and other organizations on campus as Vang pleaded, all students and orgs involved worked on how they could come to terms of agreement.
“This constitution is too important to be derailed over a single sentence that the org reps voted yes on anyway,” said Amanda Barber, a member of the bylaws committee.
Barber worked with Spivey to present the constitution to all org reps. Other members of the committee include senators Ben Holmes and Mary Kotleski.
After passing through the senate, the constitution must still be confirmed by the student body. Students will have the opportunity to vote in the April elections.
To get involved with PSG in the second semester, senate meetings will be held every Wednesday at 5 PM in the Oak Room. The reformed constitution will be available on uwpsg.com coming soon!
Article by Eric Zizich