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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    New Consitution Proposal by USG

    Last week the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) passed a new Constitution through two crucial steps of the ratifying process. It was passed through the Executive Council unanimously and through the Senate with one dissenting vote. It has yet to be formally adopted, awaiting an open student vote on SOLAR, from Oct. 22nd to the 26th.

    The proposed legislation will make some new changes, such as: the creation of an Executive Cabinet, the reapportionment of Senators along the lines of residential status, and the clarification of a flawed justice system.

    In previous years the USG Senate was made up of representatives from the various colleges on campus, like the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The proposed Constitution will reapportion the senators as either resident or commuter by their respective sizes. About half of undergraduate students commute and half are residents, so half of USG senators will be elected by the commuters, the other half will be elected by the residents.

    Shapiro, who wrote most of the Constitution, commented, “The USG represents the interests of the students in respect to programs and activities on campus, and we think that those interests are more closely tied to their residential status than by their academic college.” Shapiro is also a commuter.

    When asked if he knew whether there were more residents or commuters in the Senate he replied, “I think there are more residents. This might be because commuters are usually not as engaged by the student government as residents.”

    The proposed Constitution creates an Executive Cabinet. This would replace the Executive Council, where members will be appointed instead of elected. It was done, says Shapiro, to provide for more Executive accountability, so the President can’t blame a cabinet member if something goes wrong, because he appointed him. The final blame rests on the President.

    Last semester multiple USG officials went to trial including the former USG President Romual Jean-Baptiste. It was during this time that the USG judicial system proved cumbersome and confusing.

    The proposed Constitution clarifies the process of impeachment. The process begins in the Supreme Court where a majority vote will impeach the officer and a 2/3 vote in the Senate will remove the officer. For senators all that is needed is a 2/3 vote in the Senate.

    Nathan Shapiro, current USG Executive Vice President, wrote much of the proposed Constitution with the help of many USG officials over the course of the last nine months.

    Although the proposed Constitution looks to have fixed some of the old problems, there are some who disagree. Robert Romano, former President Pro-Tempore of the USG Senate, stated in an open letter to the Statesman that he thought the Constitution was too ambiguous in some areas, particularly on the removal of senators. If one party could get enough of the majority, says Romano, then they could just expel the minority party out of office.

    To that Shapiro replied, “It’s ambiguous if you think the American Constitution is ambiguous,” implying that the U.S. Constitution uses the same system for the removal of senators.

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