Submitted by Jonathan Hirst
It seems as if the naysayers never seem to go away. This isn’t always a bad thing because it provokes debate, and debate is always a good thing. In any political arena, you will always have opponents and proponents; it’s inevitable. If everybody had the same opinion, well, life would just be boring. It is important, however, that when you form your own opinion, you carefully weigh your options. This cannot be more evident than in this current special election for the new USG constitution. Last semester, the USG put forth a radically new document that would restructure a failing organization. While there have been some bright spots in the past few years, it hasn’t been enough to really elevate USG to the organization it can be.
The last constitution failed for a few reasons. The most important was a lack of education on the part of USG, and the lack of input on the part of the students. Opposition was fierce and the end result was an overwhelming vote against the proposal. The new constitution didn’t even get half of the vote. We realized the errors of our ways and I began to reach out to some of the most vocal opposition. I invited them to my office and to ask them what can we do to fix the document. These were some of the suggestions:
• Expand the anti-discrimination clause
• Have an elected treasurer
• The option to appeal your clubs budget
• Increased clubs protections
We incorporated ALL of the above into the new document in an effort to create the best foundation for all of Stony Brook undergraduates. When presented with the new document, opponents now embraced it, calling it a substantial improvement. We went to great lengths advertising Town Hall meetings to educate students about the changes, in an effort to point out what was changed. The overwhelming response was “good job, we now feel comfortable supporting this document.” Not only that, but just like the last document, this constitution passed overwhelmingly through the Senate and the Executive Council. While it wasn’t unanimous, it was the large majority. Now it may fail for personal reasons.
This new constitution lays the groundwork for a new government. A government that is more responsive to the students, and one that is more efficient. It also gives greater representation to, in my opinion, an overlooked portion of the student body; the commuters. The new constitution guarantees senate seats to commuters. This is the ensure commuters voices are heard just as easily as residents voices. We also eliminated positions in the government that traditionally had no role, yet sucked up student activity fee money to pay these students. That is thousands of dollars that could go to fund more clubs. More clubs means more activities. A win-win situation in my opinion.
This new document is incredibly important. I could go into how it has changed from the current constitution, but I believe that interested students can do research for themselves. I would encourage all students to visit the USG website regarding the constitution at https://www.stonybrookusg.org/constitution/. Please make an informed decision, not one based on fear and personal vendettas.
Voting begins on Monday 3/10 at noon and ends Friday 3/14 at noon. Please vote and vote informed. If any students have any questions, I encourage them to come to the USG Suite, SAC 202 for more information. I am there most of the time and am more than happy to answer any and all student questions.
Vice President of Communications and Public Relations
Undergraduate Student Government