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Legislation is in the works to restructure Associated Students and its governing bodies, with plans to create special committees in A.S. Senate that will be responsible for certain A.S. Boards, Committees and Commissions and related areas of interest.
Changes will include the formation of Senate Committees, small groups of senators which will focus with greater depth on particular issues before recommending legislation for all senators to vote on. Another change includes the formation of Senate Administrative Committees, which will dedicate more time to reading over records of Boards, Committees or Commissions meetings than is possible under the current Senate structure. The third revision of the proposed restructuring will be presented to a gathering of all A.S. Boards, Committees and Commissions on Friday, Jan. 31 for discussion.
A.S. President Jonathan Abboud said he thinks the proposed are changes necessary, saying they will create a greater sense of accountability amongst campus groups and address the current lack of structure and specialization within A.S. Senate.
“The Senate meetings run long,” Abboud said, “Without taking a long time, [the senators] don’t really have the opportunity to take a look at resolutions and bills and fix them and make them better before passing them.”
According to Abboud, there are two fundamental problems with the current organization of A.S., the first of which is an alleged overload of responsibilities for senators. In regard to this first problem, Abboud said organizing senators into committees directly dealing with particular issues will cut down on time spent during meetings.
“We’re going to have Senate committees, much like city council or California legislature, that deal with matters on a smaller basis and then recommend legislation back up to the Senate,” he said.
The second problem he mentioned was discrepancies in the relationships between BCCs — or Boards, Committees and Commissions — and the rest of A.S.
“There is no definition between the different kinds of entities in A.S,” Abboud said. “There are unclear relationships between the Senate and the BCCs and the Execs and the BCCs.”
However, many students involved with these A.S. groups hold concerns about how the new restructuring plan will affect the autonomy of each campus group, as they will now be grouped with other organizations and have an A.S. senator representing their interests at Senate meetings. Chair of the Womyn’s Commission Olivia Jaffe-Pachuilo, a third-year French major, is concerned about the effects the restructuring will have on student input for each organization.
“It’s the details that concern me,” she said. “I don’t think it’s inherently bad, but when it comes down to the bits and pieces, people need to have their own say about what happens to their own groups.”
A.S. Senator and third-year sociology and psychology major Ali Guthy, who heads the committee authoring the legislation of the restructure, said the new plan addresses divisions that are currently present in the student government.
“There’s a disconnect between all the different entities within A.S,” Guthy said. “It doesn’t feel like we’re all under the Association.”
Such disconnect leads students to misunderstand the role of A.S., according to third-year Andre Theus, off-campus senator and vice-chair of the restructuring committee.
“Everyone thinks that A.S. is Program Board,” Theus said. “They’re a huge face of A.S., but no one knows that there’s this governmental side so there’s this lack of unity.”
According to Guthy, BCCs such A.S. Publications and the A.S. Ticket Office will be grouped together in order to promote greater unity within A.S. under the new structure. She also said the restructuring will not affect the internal workings of any BCC.
“In no [version of the] restructure, has the internal functioning of a group changed,” she said. “We’re changing how groups communicate between each other.”