SGA’s proposed constitution for the 2020-2021 school year has not met the required support to be ratified, forcing SGA to revert to the previous ratified constitution from 2017.
On Sept. 23, Student Life sent out a student-wide email containing the poll to vote on the new constitution, which closed on Sept. 25. According to the Charger Student Newsletter on Sept. 28, the revised constitution did win the popular vote – with 53.61% of voters voting in favor of the revision. However, Student Life policies dictate that a new constitution must receive 75% approval from voting students, making this insufficient to pass the revised version.
Similarly, SGA proposed a constitution in 2019 that was not ratified by the administration. This version introduced, among other things, a judicial branch that would handle interpretations of the constitution as well as disciplinary action. Despite this constitution not receiving the support to be ratified officially, SGA did act under this constitution for the 2019-2020 school year. As of the current semester, the judicial branch has been dissolved and SGA has had to revert back to the 2017 version. The latest proposed version also lacks a judicial branch.
According to one SGA senator who served on the committee to draft the new constitution, the judicial branch was determined to be redundant as all its responsibilities were already handled by other SGA roles. According to SGA President Jessica Hunter, the judicial branch also hindered productivity. “The judicial model (seen in the 19/20 document) was modeled after larger universities whose programs function differently than the UAH SGA,” Hunter says. “SGA is not large enough to fill three branches. If I am being transparent, we struggle to fill the legislative branch (senate) each year.”
The revised constitution would have offered a few updates on the current version. According to Speaker of the Senate Kate Goggins, the revised version was written with more inclusive, gender-neutral language, improved readability, and allowances for virtual meetings. It also removes the previous constitution’s demerit system and allows SGA to appoint directors for certain tasks.
Hunter believes low voter turnout is to blame for the proposed constitution not receiving the threshold necessary for ratification. “This is an issue we are aware of and will work to increase participation when the committee sends the document to student voting in the future,” she says. According to Student Life a total of 416 students voted, accounting for about 4% of the student body. SGA will send the constitution, along with feedback from students, back to the committee to be reviewed and updated for future semesters.