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By Amanda Riddle
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 23, 1997

New ASUA constitution gets initial approval

The Undergraduate Senate passed a new Associated Students constitution last night during a two-hour meeting highlighted by a verbal tug-o-war between the executive and legislative branch.

"It's done, I think we have a very comprehensive constitution. But I'm disappointed with some of the actions of the other members of ASUA," Senate Chairman Gilbert Davidson said.

The constitution, which contains amendments made by the senators last night, will be discussed at the Central Coordinating Council meeting today at 5 p.m., ASUA President Rhonda Wilson said.

The CCC is composed of the Senate chairman, two senators, the two vice presidents and the president.

The CCC will meet again Jan. 30 where it can make further amendments to the constitution. The CCC also plans to vote on the constitution at that meeting, Wilson said. If it is approved by the CCC, the document will go into effect when newly elected officers take over on May 1.

A lengthy debate continued last night over the process of legislation once it is vetoed by the president. The issue will be discussed again at the CCC meeting, Wilson said.

Erin Russell, vice president of clubs and organizations, Mindy McCollum, vice president of programs and services and Hilla Yaniv, ASUA treasurer, also attended yesterday's meeting.

The three executive officers and Wilson expressed the need for an internal affairs committee to vote on a presidential veto and give all areas of ASUA a say in the vote.

The executive branch submitted a memo during the meeting suggesting that the committee be composed of the president, the two vice presidents and two senators.

However, the Senate voted instead to return vetoed legislation to the Senate where any senator could call for a veto override. Nine votes out of a group comprised of the 10 senators and the two vice presidents would then be needed to override a veto.

"I think at the CCC meeting we can be civilized and professional and come to a compromise," Wilson said.

Wilson said she felt the ASUA president needed to have a voice in the veto override. As the new constitution stands, the president is not included in any votes concerning overriding a presidential veto.

"I believe what everyone was working toward was a full ASUA consensus," Wilson said. "The president plays different roles and you can't discount their role as the person who oversees the cabinet."

Sen. Ryan Anderson said there is an inherent mistrust between the executive and legislative branches.

"The executive branch believes we, as a group, are going to vote in a block and we think they are going to vote in a block also," he said.

In other debates, the Senate voted 4-3 with one abstention to change the number of Senate seats in the new constitution to 10 senators. The 10 seats are still an increase from the eight senators and one chairman who now sit on the Senate.

During the discussion before the vote, Rico said, "I think the number of seats should be 12. The reason why it might (seem like) a big jump is because of the lack of student knowledge about ASUA."

Student knowledge about ASUA would increase if ASUA talked to groups such as the Residence Hall Association, he said.

"Ten is a really small representation for the size of the school. If you compare the size of us (the Senate) to other institutions, it's ridiculously small," Montenero said.

The Senate also approved having one non-voting faculty member on the Senate. The faculty member would be appointed by the president.

The proposed constitution originally stated that two faculty members would exercise voting power in the body.

Articles regarding the judicial branch, elections, amendments and the budget were approved quickly by the Senate without any discussion from the executive officers or the audience. No significant changes from the current ASUA constitution were made in those sections.

Major changes to ASUA's structure include:

  • A Senate consisting of 10 student senators and a non-voting faculty member, instead of the current eight student senators and one student chairperson.

  • A change in the roles of the two vice presidents. Instead of a vice president of clubs and organizations and a vice president of programs and services, the two positions will consist of an executive vice president and an administrative vice president.

  • A change from the current system in which the vice president of clubs and organizations serves as chair of the Appropriations Board, one senator will serve as the chairperson of the board, which approves funding for clubs and organizations.

  • The dissolution of the CCC. In it's place, legislation passed by the Senate will go directly to the president.