On April 26th, the Wilf Campus Constitution received its first update since 2014, as the student body voted in three amendments to the document. These newly authorized changes reflect the student council’s response to the ever changing and developing Wilf community, and its attempt to fully and accurately represent all of its constituents.
“The Wilf Campus Constitution went through the amendment ratification process because the student council felt that there were certain regulations in our current system which were either obsolete, viewed as pointless, or something deemed necessary in order to adapt to the ever changing type of student body and culture here on Wilf,” said SYMS Student Council President Akiva Koppel. “Essentially, we thought the constitution needed updating, as any governing document anywhere regularly should be updated, and we gave the students three weeks to submit an idea for an amendment to our constitution via Google forms.”
The voting process was relatively simple and the same as it has been in recent years. Students proposed amendments to the General Assembly (GA), which consists of the four male student council presidents and one Student Life Committee chairman. The GA then made the final decision on which suggestions would appear on the ballot, which the student body voted on as part of the general election on April 26th.
“The GA narrowed five submitted proposals down to three we found imperative, and those were on the ballot this past Wednesday,” Koppel explained. This is precisely in accordance with the campus constitution, which, in Article XIII, Section 1, (5) states, “Ratification of amendments shall be by three-fifths of votes cast by the Student Body during the Amendment Vote, excluding blanks.”
Various members of student council, such as the YU Canvassing Chair, were involved at different stages in the ratification process. Moshe Lehman, who currently occupies this position, explained that after the GA approves the votes, it is his responsibility to clarify any constitutional changes to the student body, and to ensure that students fully understand them. The Canvassing Committee is also responsible for ensuring that all candidates are qualified to run, and for any other technical matters such as campaign spending.
The student body voted in all three amendments on the ballot. The changes include allowing SOY presidential candidates to come from any morning program as opposed to the largest morning program, the addition of a PR secretary to the SOY board, and, effective next election, the requirement of the Office of Student Life to completely disclose the percentage of votes each presidential candidate receives in the Wilf student council elections.
“I believe it was important to incorporate these changes and I was very happy that the student body approved the three amendments,” said Koppel. “There was a fourth amendment that I thought was worth putting on the ballot…but the GA voted it down with three against, one for, and one abstention. This amendment proposed having female justices on the student court, being nominated by the SCWSC president and not just the YSU president, and for the Student Court to preside over female students as well as male students. My thinking was that bringing female justices onto the court and having jurisdiction over all female students, when on the Wilf campus, would be the best way to push the Beren council women to create a court and/or join ours. We are one university and one group of people—if there is any time to get the Beren crew on board, the time is now.”
The majority of the GA, however, did not agree with this proposition—or, at least, did not see it as a viable way to encourage the Beren campus to form a court—and the proposal therefore did not appear on the ballot.
Another proposal, which suggested renaming a handful of YSU board positions with more elite titles, was also turned down in a three to two vote. Though the proposal intended to boost productivity and morale within the council, some did not view retitling as the best way to accomplish this. “I voted against it, as I believed that giving fancier names on a resume will not necessarily change the outcome of service, especially when the work and requirements will remain the same,” said Koppel.
Regardless of the actual constitutional changes, the ratification process ensures a generally positive reception, as student involvement is encouraged along the way and the final vote is left up to the student body. Still, it may be too early to determine the effects of these particular changes. Lehman stated that, though he believes the effects are not yet apparent, he has heard “rumblings” among students about amendments they agree with and others that are inciting dispute. Further potential effects of the amendments remain to be seen.