Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Friday, May 24, 2024 — Houston, TX

Constitution’s transparency, not length, must be focus

By Thresher Editorial Board     1/11/17 8:18am

The Student Association’s Committee of Constitutional Revisions is in the process of amending the SA constitution (see p. 4). Though the bill convening the committee last spring spoke of “procedural deficiencies” it sought to correct, over and over again, we have heard various members of student government complain that the SA constitution is “too long.” However, without detailed specific concerns regarding the content of the constitution, objections over the length of the constitution seem misguided.

While some procedures may feel cumbersome or finicky, the SA risks not being accessible to students without them. Details and specifications, such as those relating to keeping open records of votes and dictating when meeting dates and locations must be publicly announced, are important components of the constitution that help maintain transparency and accountability within the SA. We understand that it seems these stipulations benefit only a handful of inquisitive students, but it is unreasonable to expect students to value constitutional procedure when it seems the SA does not.

This is not to say the constitution is perfect; for example, the article on blanket tax and finances does not clearly define the purpose of the initiative fund to which students contribute through their tuition. This is an example of a vagueness that ought to be corrected. Still, the Thresher’s coverage of constitutional violations that occurred over the past three years indicates the constitution’s length has not so much been the problem as the failure to comply by rules clearly outlined therein. While there can always be room for improvement, and some vagueness such as the one mentioned above can be further clarified, the length of the constitution is not the glaring concern that some SA members have made it out to be. In the revised constitution, we hope to see changes that evince greater transparency and accessibility within the SA’s operation for the student body at large.

More from The Rice Thresher


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.