Amendments alter Union Constitution
The Student Union’s Constitutional Review Task Force proposed 19 amendments on April 23, each accompanied by the Union Constitution’s original text and a justification for the change. Four amendments failed and 15 succeeded.
Every four years, a Constitutional Review Task Force composed of students, alumni and Student Union members gathered to review the Constitution. The spring 2018 task force released its proposed amendments on April 23. The student body was given a two-day window to review the amendments and anonymously submit arguments supporting or opposing any given change. Amendments needed a two-thirds vote in favor to pass. Voting opened at 11:30 p.m. on April 29 and was open for 24 hours.
Adding an additional Racial Minority Senator to the Senate: PASSED
The task force’s justification explained that the 49 percent of Brandeis students who identify as members of a racial minority group are not adequately represented in the Union. Adding a second racial minority senator would help rectify this, the justification asserted.
Adding language to the Constitution regarding the Brandeis Sustainability Fund: PASSED
The amendment proposed adding rules to the Constitution regarding the Brandeis Sustainability Fund and its board. With the passage of these rules, undergraduates can access BSF funding by submitting a proposal to the Brandeis Sustainability Fund Board, which consists of faculty, staff and students. Project proposals will be evaluated by the BSF’s board and constitution. The Union president can veto any BSF allocation, but the veto can be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the BSF board.
Changing “Undergraduate Student Union” to “Undergraduate Student Government”: FAILED
This amendment claimed that “Union” is an ambiguous term. At other universities, “student union” tends to refer to campus centers and gathering spaces analogous to Brandeis’ Carl J. Shapiro Campus Center, according to the justification. The Student Union at Brandeis is a governing body, and the task force felt that its name should reflect that.
Changing benchmarks to guidelines regarding Secured Clubs and funds, adjusting the guideline values of Secured Clubs, and better enforcing Allocations Board policy: FAILED
The proposal would have changed the word “benchmarks” to “guidelines” and further defined it. The amendment would have also created a Club Sports Fund to reflect that club sports is an entity rather than one club. The amendment would also have enabled A-Board to enforce funding and documentation procedures by allowing them to lower guideline values or decrease funding in the following fiscal year.
The amendment was nullified and put up to a second vote because it originally misstated the secured values for WBRS and BTV. It failed to pass the second vote.
Clarifying and redistributing of the roles of Executive Senator and Vice President: PASSED
The amendment, meant to clarify the roles of Union executive senator and vice president, established the executive senator as a “clerical, concrete and useful role.” The executive senator’s new duties include presiding over the Senate in the vice president’s absence and maintaining the Senate’s minutes and attendance log. The vice president’s expanded role includes serving as the chair of the Senate and the Executive Board’s liaison to it.
Clarifying the definition and privileges of Secured Clubs: PASSED
The amendment defines secured clubs as organizations “recognized by students as sufficiently important to necessitate annual funding.” Previously, secured clubs had “[provided] an essential service to the entire student body.” This change was justified by the claim that the proposed wording would be better aligned with the actual function of secured clubs.
Secured clubs are also now officially able to budget through the Allocations Board on an annual basis and cannot be de-chartered unless their secured status is first removed through an amendment.
Clarifying the language regarding Union Clubs: PASSED
In their justification for the amendment, the task force claimed that Article VI of the Constitution, the section regarding Union clubs, uses the word “recognized” inconsistently. The amendment aimed to clarify the article’s language, to remove a rule forbidding clubs from “[duplicating] the purpose or goals” of any other club, to expand every secured club’s protection from Senate regulations and to explicitly allow the Senate to dissolve clubs.
Clarifying the language surrounding Racial Minority positions: PASSED
This amendment was intended to clarify Constitution language. It added a requirement that students may only vote and run for racial minority senator if they have self-identified as such through the University Registrar.
Clarifying the line of succession to the Presidency and clarifying interim positions: PASSED
Under this amendment, the vice president will serve as president if the office of Union president is vacant. If the vice president cannot serve for the remainder of the term, they serve as interim president until a new president is elected according to the Constitution’s specifications. If the vice president cannot serve as interim president, the executive senator fulfills the role, and if they cannot, the Union secretary serves. If none of the listed senators are able to serve as interim president, the Judiciary may appoint a Union member to the role.
Clarifying the procedure of the Community Enhancement and Emergency Fund and increasing representation: PASSED
The amendment was meant to make the Community Enhancement and Emergency Fund “clearer and more effective” for the student body to access. The CEEF exists to “ensure the stability of Union funds in case of emergencies” and allow the University community to fund projects for communal benefit. CEEF funding is capped at $250,000; unused Student Activities Fund money is re-allocated to it until the cap is reached.
Correcting the definition and implications of the motion “abstain” and adding the motion of “vote of no confidence” to allow the option to vote against all candidates: PASSED
The task force sought to clarify the difference between choosing not to vote in an election and voting against every potential candidate in the election. Prior to the amendment, abstentions had penalized candidates; should abstain receive a majority, the seat would be kept vacant until the next election. Adding a “vote of no confidence” option will allow voters to choose between actively voting against every candidate and simply abstaining from the election.
Eliminating the unnecessary section of “Additional Representative Positions”: PASSED
This amendment removed “vague text” concerning the power balance between the Senate and the President. The task force justified the amendment by explaining that the power difference between the two is “better defined” in the Senate bylaws.
Increasing the frequency of the Constitutional Review, including measures to solicit student opinions in the Constitutional Review, and clarifying the role of Secretary regarding Constitutional Amendments: PASSED
This amendment changed the frequency of the constitutional review process from every four years to every three years in order to maintain the Constitution as a “living document.” The amendment also requires the task force to publish a survey to the student body in order to maintain the Constitution’s relevance and responsiveness to student need. It also transfers responsibility for maintaining the Constitution to the Senate; previously, it had been under jurisdiction of the Judiciary.
Reforming Quad Senator Positions: PASSED
The task force explained that this amendment was created to streamline the Senate by reducing the number of quad senators. It groups residence quads by number and approximate class year of residents.
Reforming the Judiciary: PASSED
The task force explained that a “fundamental lack of structure” has impeded the Judiciary’s fulfillment of its duties. The rewritten clauses about the Judiciary clarify roles and responsibilities, protect privacy rights of people involved in cases and create specific requirements for the execution of a trial.
Requiring all elected and appointed Union officials to officially accept positions to then be bound to the governing documents of the Student Union: PASSED
Prior to this amendment, there was no procedure requiring Union officials to formally accept positions after being elected. This amendment stated that elected officials will not be held to the Union rights and responsibilities until they have accepted the role electronically or in writing.
Securing the Hoot and establishing a News Publishing Fund: FAILED
Before The Brandeis Hoot was established, the Justice Publishing Expenses Fund was created to allow the Justice to function as an independent newspaper on campus without being beholden to the Union for funding. The task force explained that they wanted to reflect the current reality of campus news organizations by securing The Hoot and combining the two newspapers’ funding into a News Publishing Fund, which would be entitled to up to eight percent of the Student Activities Fund.
Arguments against the amendment claimed that this would force the two newspapers to compete for funding, undermining journalistic integrity, and that The Hoot violates the duality of purpose clause in the bylaws.
Securing the Undergraduate Theater Collective: FAILED
The task force explained that the Undergraduate Theater Collective used to be a collection of separate clubs, each with their own shows and funding; this was an inefficient system that drained clubs' resources. Now that campus theater clubs have combined into the more- streamlined UTC, its funding needs are more predictable and security would ease its internal processes. Arguments against security claimed that the UTC does not provide a more necessary or essential campus service than other unsecured clubs do.
Updating language on the Allocations Board to reflect current practices: PASSED
This amendment updated the Constitution to reflect the current structure of the A-Board, expand its responsibilities and clarify the role of Union treasurer.