When hitting the Undergraduate Student Government polls, some students will be checking off more than just candidates for office on their ballot. Issue One, a ballot initiative USG brought to light, summons voters to endorse the up-to-date constitution and bylaws of the organization.
The USG governing documents are rewritten every five years and were last adjusted in April 2006. Jared Kamrass, senior counselor to the USG president, led a committee adopting substantial change to USG structure.
“Generally, when they have done these committees it has been more tweaks instead of full structure,” Kamrass said. “We have put lots of time, lots of work and lots of effort into it and we are confident that we have come up with a structure for USG that will serve the best interest for students.”
With a clean slate for a new constitution, Kamrass and committee members traveled to a nearby university, and evaluated 12 different universities to best see how neighboring universities ran student government. Meeting with governmental leaders of universities allowed the committee to examine new functions to adopt different changes and to create a more hybrid model, Kamrass said.
“We want students’ best interests to be represented to the fullest,” Kamrass said. “This document will create a structure that allows students money to be spent as widely and effectively as it possibly can.”
Members of USG urge students to check “yes” on the ballot for Issue One, but the lack of publicity on the matter concerns some students.
“Since they don’t outline Issue One in advance, then I am worried,” said Lauren Marcinek, a third-year in fashion and retail studies. “It’s like walking into a dark room. I don’t know what to expect.”
All four presidential candidates on the ballot this week are in support of Issue One, but it is the student vote that matters.
Kamrass said Issue One will allow USG to take politics out of governing and support USG’s efforts to represent the best interests of the students.
“I mean, it is like them saying, ‘Do you want juice?’ before I know what kind they’re offering,” said Ashley Wright, a third-year in sexuality studies. “It is almost like I vote yes and put my trust in their hands to do what I want them to, but that cannot be guaranteed.”
Among the changes that Issue One addresses is an increased collaboration between the legislative and executive branches, an overall structure that supports USG’s functions as an advocacy group for students and the ability to fund student organizations in a more effective way.
“As long as the students opinions are heard and represented, then I think it has the potential to be a great thing,” Marcinek said.
Shawn Wiler-Martin, a second-year in exercise science, could not help but disagree.
“If we start directing students’ money specifically, then inevitably we would be taking it away from something else,” Martin said. “I think it defeats the whole purpose because though it may boost student programs, it will make it harder for the university as a whole.”