Senate rejects new constitution proposal for Senate seat ratio

Students might have voted by popular vote in the last senator election if a recent proposal by student senators had passed. Student Government Association senators rejected a proposal to change part of the SGA constitution concerning the ratio of on- and off-campus students in the Senate on March 29. “People kept saying that they didn’t want a free-for-all, but a synonym for free-for-all is popular vote,” said Claire Chevrier, chair of the Constitution Committee and speaker of the Senate. “I am disappointed that it didn’t get passed initially, even though I understand why it was not brought up again.” Currently, the Senate is comprised of 50 percent on-campus students and 50 percent off-campus students, Chevrier said. The proposal would have gotten rid of the on/off campus split and left Senate elections up to popular vote, she said. The Senate has spent a lot of time in recent years looking into whether the current constitution is the best way to represent students’ views, Chevrier said. “Changing the constitution may encourage competition that may very well create senators that actually want to connect with students,” Junior Shiren Chan said. Amanda Adams, chair of Student Activities Committee, said the current constitution does not consider the interests of the students. The biggest problem with the constitution is that not enough off-campus students run while several on-campus candidates are denied spots even though they had more votes, Adams said. The benefit for having both on- and off-campus students on Senate is that it is more likely to have a mix of class years on the body, she said. Different senators have different perspectives on this issue, but none to her knowledge consider themselves solely representing the views of on- or off-campus students, Adams said. A senior may be more interested in life after college, the Career Services Center and housing prices in Burlington, Adams said. There are new issues such as elevated rent prices, housing codes, landlord relations and trash collection that many on-campus students don’t have to face, SGA Senator Katie Rifken said. “I feel like the problem with the popular vote would be that most of the senators would be on-campus with little representation from off-campus students,” sophomore Brie Timm said.