BSG Constitution changes voted down by student body


Jen Lassen, Editor-in-chief

Bucknell Student Government (BSG) recently proposed changes to their constitution that were voted against by a majority of student voters this past week.

The intended changes to the constitution focused on structural changes to Congress, in which 40 Senators would be elected to Class Congresses and 20 Representatives would be elected to specific committees; adopting a section of core values; clarifications about voting procedures; information about the new Appropriations guidelines; and more information about the new classifications for registered student organizations.

However, BSG did not receive student support needed to approve these changes.

In her initial email to campus about this new voting process, President of BSG Loren Jablon ’15 stated, “Last week, BSG Congress approved the adoption of these documents [to the constitution]. As a congressional formality, BSG now needs your vote on the constitution. In order for BSG to implement the new structure outlined in the document in Fall 2014, 60 percent of all voters must approve the change.”

According to the votes gathered from the Involvement Network (INetwork) software, 362 students voted against the revised constitution, 222 voted for the revised constitution, and 14 abstained. Percentage-wise, 60.53 percent of voters denied the changes to the constitution, 37.12 percent approved them, and 2.34 percent abstained.

BSG then decided to extend their voting deadline from April 14 at midnight to the next day.

Former BSG Vice President of Operations Colin Sygrove ’15 commented on the voting process.

“During my time as BSG VP of Operations, I never extended the time of an election ballot. When the ballot is created, the VP of Operations must enter the time the ballot is open and the time the ballot closes. It closes automatically; therefore, someone intentionally extended the deadline. I believe that this process has been mishandled and that the student body deserves better,” Sygrove said.

According to Jablon, this extension was based on student requests for more time to think the decision over. However, the votes cast during the extension did not affect the overall outcome.

“The goal of revising the Constitution was simply to clean up the contradictory language in our current document. We intended for the new Constitution to be clearer, easier to understand, and more democratic. Its goals were to take some powers out of the hands of BSG and put more into the hands of the student body,” Jablon said.

Clinton Kittrell ’14, former BSG Vice President of Administration, alongside Jablon, Whitney Tatem ’15, and Mitchell McBride ’17, was heavily involved in changing the constitution and offered additional information about the intended changes.

Kittrell stated that one major potential constitutional change included splitting the BSG Congress into the House, students specifically elected for their interests in internal committees (20 total), and the Senate, composed of the traditional Class Congresses (10 students per congress, 40 total).

Another important intended change was the creation of a new committee called the Student Organizational Review Board for overseeing student organizations and representation of these committees in the House of BSG.

In regards to the fact that 37.12 percent of student voters approved these changes as opposed to the necessary 60 percent of votes to pass the changes, BSG will now operate under the original constitution, but has the power to change the bylaws. 

Many students reacted to Jablon’s initial email to all students and the proposed constitution. One student in particular, Richie Pisano ’15, sent a response to Jablon stating his reservations about the new constitution.

“BSG did not properly inform the students of the substantive changes that were proposed in the new constitution. Stating that the vote was just a formality was offensive to the students, who are entrusted with approving these changes. My email was meant to inform as many students as I could of problems that I recognized in the documents. After announcing to the students that the voting would be open for a set amount of time, BSG decided to extend the voting. This decision was clearly influenced by the results of the election; by making this choice, BSG abused its power when it unilaterally chose to extend the length of the vote. The students were never informed of this change to matters even worse. I request BSG publicly apologize for such actions,” Pisano said.

“By that logic, what is to stop BSG from sending a vote out with a 24-hour time frame and changing it then immediately to a shorter period? This just shows a lack of respect to our students. The only good that may come from this is that at least more students might pay closer attention to current campus issues and become informed,” Connor Small ’15 said.

“Though its rollout was certainly not perfect, I really do believe that it would have changed the structure of BSG for the better. It is my hope that if we ever try to reintroduce a modified version of the Constitution in the future, we can work out some of the wrinkles we encountered this time around and have a more positive result that can mutually benefit both BSG and our student body,” BSG Vice President of the Class of 2016 Connor McLaughlin said.

“Scrolling throgh yik yak, sitting in class, or even just hanging out in my dorm for the last few days has been an eye-opening experience-difficult and educational. I didn’t realize how quickly misinformation could be spread and how quick students can be to argue and attack students that have been working all year to help them,” BSG member Madeline Kling ’17 said.

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