Pitzer Student Senate Reforms Constitution for Increased Clarity
Ayana Kelly | April 24, 2015, 5:49 p.m.
In an April 5 referendum, Pitzer students voted to ratify the revised Pitzer Student Senate Constitution, with 57 percent of student voters in support of the changes. The Constitution Ad Hoc Committee, co-chaired by Josue Pasillas PZ '17 and Jackson Dulla PZ '17, revised the constitution in order to clarify the Senate's regulations and increase transparency.
The revised Constitution will divide the Senate into a Legislative branch, Executive branch and Judicial branch. While members of the Executive branch will not be allowed to vote at Senate meetings, they will be able to veto legislation passed by the Legislature. The new Constitution will also create a Student Organizations Committee to serve as a liaison between student groups and the Senate. In addition, the Judicial Council, which will be responsible for responding to violations of the Constitution, will have 10 student members instead of five.
Since the approval of the new Constitution, some students have expressed concerns about the ambiguity of Article IX, Section 4-II of the Constitution, which states, “for the nature of preserving a fair representation of the student body, voters must not be graduating or transferring the semester immediately following the election.” On April 12, the Senate resolved to remove Article IX, Section 4-11 from the Constitution, and Pitzer students will vote on the proposed resolution in elections this week.
The process of changing the Constitution began in 2013 when the Senate decided that the Constitution should be updated. The Constitution Ad Hoc Committee was created to review and recommend amendments to the Constitution and the Budget Committee bylaws. The former Constitution had not had a comprehensive review since its ratification in 2011.
According to Andrew Lydens PZ '17, a member of the Senate's Student Affairs Committee, the Senate led the early stages of the Constitution revision process, with an increasing amount of administrator and student involvement over time. Since the proposal for revision in 2013, public meetings have been held for members of the Pitzer community to voice their opinions.
The revisions have been primarily focused on clarifying existing regulations and policies in Pitzer's Constitution, according to Vice President of Student Affairs Brian Carlisle.
“In the two years that I have been at Pitzer, operations of the Senate have sometimes been hampered by lack of clarity in the Constitution,” Carlisle wrote. “Senate wanted to make the necessary changes in the Constitution to clarify ambiguity in the document. This clarity should reinforce the significance and value of our shared governance processes.”
While Lydens thinks that the changes will create more transparency and clarity in Senate processes, he believes that the Constitution still has room for revision to facilitate "full student involvement with Senate."
Senate Secretary Josue Pasillas PZ ’17 wrote in an email to TSL that he hopes the Constitution will help to improve the relationship between the Senate and the student body.
“As the Student Senate works to keep students involved in all aspects of the college, I hope that the new constitution will give the Student Senate more credibility,” Pasillas wrote in an email to TSL. “The two-year process of reforming the constitution is now over and the Student Senate can move forward more efficiently now. This is the most comprehensive and professional constitution the Student Senate has had in its history.”