Former SU exec proposes constitutional changes
Sometimes, business as usual just isn’t good enough.
That’s why former Student Union Vice President of Administration Trevor Mattea is proposing constitutional amendments to the SU constitution to eradicate the problems he perceives within SU.
Mattea, a junior, served in SU as a senator for a year and a half and an executive for six months. He resigned halfway through his term as vice president of administration because of his frustrations with the position.
After Mattea’s experience with SU, he wanted to make the necessary reforms to ensure that in the future SU and its officers are capable of most effectively using their power.
“I know how frustrating it can be when you see a student government that has so much potential, it has enormous resources, a $2.2 million budget,” Mattea said.
Mattea sees the allocation of funds as SU’s largest flaw.
“I don’t believe there’s enough debate, enough dialogue, about finding new creative ways to spend that money,” Mattea said.
He thinks that SU could use its funds to more effectively make a difference on major issues on campus instead of hearing appeals from student groups for what he sees as trivial things, such as T-shirts and food.
He also thinks that the president should set the budget, and not the vice president of finance, in order to accomplish the president’s goals that he or she was elected to achieve.
“When you’re talking about steering the student government in a general direction and setting broad priorities, I think it makes more sense to have a president do it,” Mattea said, comparing the student government to that of United States.
One of Mattea’s proposals is that the vice president positions of finance, programming and public relations become appointed instead of elected. This way, Mattea thinks, the people filling those positions will be selected for their skill set and not whatever constituency they bring to a slate.
Another advantage Mattea sees to this system is that there are fewer people for the voters to keep track of when they fill out their ballot.
Senior Chase Sackett, the speaker of the Senate, disagrees with this particular reform.
“I don’t think having three less elected executives would be helpful,” Sackett said. “I think those positions are important.” He also thinks that Mattea is underestimating voters’ capabilities.
“I think there’s value to having those people elected,” he said. “I think people do differentiate that. I think Wash. U. students are pretty smart. I think we should give them some credit.”
Mattea also wants to give the entire executive branch more power. He thinks that in order to equip it to do this, there should be executive elections in the fall and inaugurations in January. This means that the fatigue of senior year, which many executives feel toward the end of the school year, will not affect their work.
He also proposes that the president remind the Senate and Treasury of his priorities at least once a semester to keep them going in his direction.
Though Mattea sees bureaucracy as getting in the way of effectiveness of the executive branch, Sackett thinks that time could be better spent creating committees.
“I think bringing people into SU and offering them as resources and having people get involved who wouldn’t otherwise do so…would be a great way to improve SU,” Sackett said.
These committees make sure that initiatives and priorities aren’t lost even as SU officials come and go in and out of office.
Mattea also wants to see change in the Senate and Treasury. He would like to elect fewer senators, with the Senate having the same constituency representation as the Treasury. This way the body can be more decisive and focus on “big issues” more than what Mattea perceives as smaller individual projects.
“I think there’s value in the personal projects…a lot of the positive change that Senate has helped affect have been the result of a personal interest in an issue or topic,” said Mike Saykvik, the faculty adviser for Senate and coordinator for student involvement and programming leadership.
Another idea Mattea would propose is having Treasury members elected twice a year instead of once. This would again detract from the number of people voters need to keep track of.
While SU officials have mixed feelings about these proposed changes, they try to keep it in perspective.
“It’s easy to worry about making all these changes when Senate is trying to move forward and there’s a worry that maybe that will inhibit our progress,” freshman Senator Ross Passo said. “But I feel like all these, although there are a lot of them…I don’t think they’ll make a huge difference in Senate’s ability to progress forward. I think that, if anything, they’ll help us move forward instead of inhibiting us.”
Though Mattea’s proposals are not finalized, he is looking to get the constitutional changes on the ballot in time for elections in the first week of March. He must collect 900 signatures, and so far he has around 500. Once his proposals are on the ballot, they must be passed by a two-thirds vote.