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Tuesday, February 19, 2019 — Houston, TX 56°

Senate passes new constitution

By Drew Keller     2/21/17 7:06pm

The Student Association Senate passed a new SA constitution and revisions to the Honor Council constitution at its Monday meeting, while also creating a student housing working group and debating legislation to support the BRIDGE Act. The act is a federal bill extending legal protections to undocumented immigrants who are eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status.

The Senate voted unanimously to approve the new SA constitution, as well as approving the ballot of candidates for SA and blanket tax positions. The student body will vote on whether to approve the document in next week’s election; in order for it to be enacted, a two-thirds majority is required with at least twenty percent of undergraduates voting.

The new constitution splits many of the detailed rules regulating the SA and its subsidiary organizations into a separate bylaws document and reduces some of the rules’ complexities, resulting in significant shortening: The existing constitution is around 42,000 words, while the new constitution is roughly 6,200 words and the new bylaws are 18,600 words. The new documents are the work of the Committee on Constitutional Revisions, which convened one year ago to review the existing constitution to try to improve its clarity and structure.

The Senate’s unanimous vote to approve changes to the Honor Council constitution will also send it to the general election ballot. The changes call for an increase in Honor Council membership and allow the body to determine that it can set aside cases if the accusation is untimely. Honor Council’s previous statute of limitations was repealed in 2014, according to the legislation.

The Senate also unanimously approved Bill #6, which would create a student housing working group to facilitate transparency with H&D in the wake of recent facilities issues at several colleges.

Finally, the Senate discussed Resolution #4, which would declare SA support for current DACA students and for passage of the BRIDGE Act. Several senators and college presidents debated whether the Senate should take political stances and whether it could speak on behalf of students on the issue. SA President Griffin Thomas called on Senate members to seek feedback at their residential colleges before a vote on the resolution next week.

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