3.19.2009

Amendments Reveal Need to Amend the SBA Constitution

"The SBA general assembly unanimously voted to approve the new amendments to the SBA constitution. It can be viewed on the SBA page, under documents and contracts. It goes into effect immediately so please peruse it at your convenience."

That's strange, I thought - I heard about the drafting of the amendments, but I didn't see an email about voting on them.  On investigation, I found that constitutional amendments to the SBA Constitution were passed without direct approval by the student body.

This seems patently improper to me - the SBA general assembly is the same body that would pass general decision-making "legislation" of the SBA.  Thus, it's analogous to the Congress or a State legislature for the law school. Under that model, it should have to send any constitutional amendments out to the people for ratification (as is done with many state constitutions). For U.S. Constitutional Amendments, state legislatures have to ratify - and we have no analogous bodies (our class reps comprise the SBA legislature - so they can't be Congress and the state legislature, so to speak - we need another representational check). 

Moreover, there's no technological or feasibility reason SBA couldn't have set up a simple online election and had the entire student body vote - just as we've done in other instances.

The bottom line: a Constitutional amendment is a big deal in any institution. The failure to get sufficient ratification for such a change is problematic. SBA should be able to change its own bylaws without a student vote, but not its Constitution.

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I understand that SBA was acting within its prerogative under its current Constitution when it amended the constitution without a student body plebiscite.  That cannot stand.

So, I will soon begin work with others on a draft amendment to amend the SBA Constitution to require that any future amendments must be ratified by at least a majority vote of the entire student body, not merely passed by the SBA elected officials.  If anyone is interested in helping with this effort - especially presenting it to SBA - please get in touch.