The Student Government Association has revised their constitution for the first time in twelve years. The constitution had not been updated since 2010, and some much needed changes were made. The Purple reached out to former SGA President Lakeisha Phillips (C’22) and new SGA President Anna McCasland (C’23), to talk about why these changes were made and what they mean for the student body.
Phillips said, “It’s an entirely new constitution. The old constitution was very bare-bones, it didn’t have any outlining of processes or the descriptions for executive council jobs.” She says that it was very hard to work with as president and her goals could not be easily accomplished without this internal structure. She also said, “Now our new constitution, it has outlines for processes, it outlines responsibilities for each position, it has processes for if someone has to be removed from the cabinet and how to fill vacancies, all of it.”
While McCasland was not on the committee to rewrite the constitution, she says that she has been in the conversation all semester, even while away, and believes it is important for all of SGA to stay informed. McCasland stresses the importance of accountability that this new constitution allows in concretely defining each position’s responsibilities. “The first article of the constitution is about the rights of the student body and it details how students can access their SGA executive council and senators in order to see the change they want to see.” She says that Phillips did a great job of making herself and SGA more accessible to the student body and she wishes for students to take advantage of this access and their rights to talk about change they want to see. SGA senators and other executive councils will be held responsible and accountable this way.
McCasland also said that “the roles of positions have always been implied but never fully defined and that is something that this new constitution allows us to do. It outlines procedures with specific guidelines and even adds new positions like DEI and Marketing and Communications.” The constitution formalizes the function of these positions.
Phillips said that “even our meeting structure was very unorganized. Formalizing this structure and process, having monthly meetings with the deans of students and others has become really important.” The constitution serves as a document that inherently tells SGA what they should be doing.
McCasland said, “The purpose of the constitution is to make sure that members function in a way that is efficient, productive, and creating tangible change. It also gives us a process to follow when we must reevaluate if people are doing their jobs correctly.” She also said, “outlining these guidelines opens the door for students to have conversations with SGA about what they want to see change. Students aren’t always heard like they should be or want to be and this helps to pave the way for EQB like it should be functioning.” This new constitution helps the new SGA council to be proactive instead of reactive in the upcoming year and take actionable steps based on the current needs of the students.
Phillips said that one very important thing in the new constitution is the written rule that it must be reviewed and revised once a year. This will prevent the document from becoming stagnant and also prevent a Student Government Association that is solely reactionary and does not function to its fullest potential. When asked what her hope was for the future use of the constitution, Phillips, laughing, said, “I hope they use it. This way, the president is able to complete their platform and not have to worry about ‘how does this work?’”
The new SGA constitution can be found here and Phillips wishes that any students who have questions or concerns reach out to new SGA executive members.