Senate Update: Constitution, Election Packet amendments and committee updates

and | Senior News Editors

James Ellinghaus | Student Life

Student Union (SU) Senate discussed constitutional and election packet changes, gave committee updates, and brainstormed ways to improve the SU Annual Survey that shapes the goals of Senate for the upcoming year in their meeting, March 7. There were 17 Senators present at the meeting, two of whom were newly appointed.


Changes to the SU Constitution and Election Packet


The Constitutional Task Force (CTF) did an overview of prospective changes to the SU Constitution, with SU Executive Vice President Emily Chen going over the changes in each section. The vote for these changes will take place on March 21.

Most notably, the task force discussed the revision of Section 2 of Article V, which details the powers and duties of the SU President. Under the discussed revision, the President can send an opinion on behalf of SU to the entire University student body without the consent of other representatives.

A few senators voiced concern over the suggested change to increase presidential power. Senator Bela Stampes-Blackburn, a sophomore, asked why it was necessary for the President to speak on behalf of all of SU.

“Why can’t it just be ‘as the President of Student Union’?” she asked, regarding emails from the President.

Chen clarified that the new presidential power is intended for instances where there is a controversial issue that SU needs to address and representatives cannot agree on a statement.

“Functionally, this [constitutional change] gives the President more power,” Chen said.

Another significant change to the SU Constitution being discussed was to Section 4 of Article VI, which describes the rules of enactment and approval for decisions made by SU bodies. The task force would change the section to allow all legislative decisions, specifically for Treasury appeals, to go into effect immediately after voting, as opposed to three days after the decision is made. 

After the CTF finished talking about the changes to the Constitution, Election Commissioner Constantin Carrigan, a junior, discussed the amendment to the SU 2023 Election Packet.

The amendment states that endorsements from Washington University entities are not permissible. Carrigan said that the amendment prevents administrators from endorsing candidates, which he argued can result in unfair elections.

Senators voted unanimously to accept the changes made to the Election Packet.


Committee Updates


Committee project updates included presentations from the Academic Affairs, Health and Wellness, Diversity and Inclusion, and Campus and Residential Experience committees.

The Academic Affairs committee is working on increasing Arts and Sciences access to study areas on campus. Despite the College of Arts and Sciences having more than five times the number of students, the Olin School of Business has more study spaces available. The committee hopes to finish the report for this space equity project by March 24.

The Academic Affairs committee is also trying to push back add/drop deadlines for classes by five weeks. Members are creating a presentation that will be shown to the Washington University administration.

The Health and Wellness Committee presented two ongoing projects.

Working alongside Embody, the eating disorder, awareness, and prevention group on campus, the committee hopes to collaborate with Washington University Student Associates to address eating disorder awareness and training as a part of Bear Beginnings.

Additionally, the committee plans to connect with external eating disorder treatment centers and reach out to the University Medical Campus to better facilitate conversations surrounding eating disorder awareness and prevention.

The committee is also looking to implement safe sex vending machines on campus that provide condoms, pregnancy tests, Plan B, and vibrators, to provide cheaper and more accessible resources to students.

“Particularly in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned, access to safer sex supplies and contraception is more important than ever,” Senator Lauren Fulghum, a sophomore, said.

Senate’s Diversity and Inclusion committee presented on making Election Day a paid holiday for University faculty and staff, in addition to enforcing campus-wide class cancellations on the day. The committee plans to organize a formal proposal to present at the Vice Faculty Dean’s meeting on April 5.

Additionally, the committee hopes to reform Bear Beginnings by cementing an annual Black convocation, hosting financial aid awareness sessions, and implementing a voter registration module for students.

The Campus and Residential Experience Committee explained their recent discussions with library administration regarding study spaces and hours. In addition to requesting that libraries open earlier and close later, the committee mentioned asking the library administration for more group study spaces. 

Finally, the committee discussed a recent meeting with Washington University Police Department (WUPD) regarding Bear Patrol, a University program that provides walking and golf cart escorts to students during late night hours.

“[WUPD] came to us expressing concerns because they weren’t getting a lot of students to take on those jobs, and they wanted us to help guide them in ways to get in touch with more students and grow the program overall,” Senator Emma Hammerschmidt, a sophomore, said. “So we are currently working with them on that.”


3/9/23 Editor’s Note: Information has been altered to accurately reflect CTF discussions on prospective changes to the SU Constitution, and to correctly report the number of newly appointed Senators.

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