Student Government overhaul in the works

Student+Government+doesnt+anticipate+to+reach+any+conclusions+by+the+end+of+the+semester.+%28Photo+by+Emma+Sylvester+25+for+The+Lafayette%29

Student Government doesn’t anticipate to reach any conclusions by the end of the semester. (Photo by Emma Sylvester ’25 for The Lafayette)

Tyler Makover, Contributing Writer

The process of revising the Student Government constitution is underway this spring, but members do not expect any formal changes to be completed by the end of this semester. 

The idea to reform the constitution, which began with former Vice President Ross Coleman ‘22 in the fall of 2020, has continued under the leadership of the current vice president, Thalia Charles ‘22, who now heads the Constitution and Bylaws Ad Hoc Committee.

“[Student Government’s] top priorities are to improve government attendance policy, alter our government structure and change impeachment proceedings going forward,” Charles said.

This review of the constitution is an attempt to clarify the direction and purpose of Student Government, according to Gina Beviglia ’22, director of PR and Marketing and a member of the ad-hoc committee.

“The pandemic specifically made it so that we lost some of the distinction and purpose and direction of student government,” Beviglia said. “So it’s a way of really zooming out and looking at student government from a very macro level and saying, ‘What is this organization’s function on this campus, what can it be in its best and final form, and how can we be the most productive and serviceable to students on this campus?”

In March of last year, Student Government moved to file impeachment charges against former Student Body President Mary Zimmerman ’21. However, no resolution was found as the semester concluded without a final decision. Beviglia said that this impeachment prompted the Student Government to take a look at the structure and function of the organization.

“It caused us to do a lot of introspection and take a good long look at like what Student Government is and how we can be better and how we can actually be best serving students. It was a very difficult time for Student Government,” Beviglia said.

While attempts have been made in the past to make reforms, Charles said that the impeachment filing also sidetracked the discussion about reforms that were previously happening.

“The last vice president started the constitution and bylaws revision process in the fall of 2020. Then that got sidetracked because of the impeachment proceeding stuff from last spring,” Charles said.

Lafayette operates under a shared decision-based model. Therefore for the new constitutional revisions, several channels must be navigated by the Student Government’s Executive Board. 

“[Constitutional] changes go through the student government general body, then faculty, who make recommendations to the Board of Trustees,” Charles said. 

According to Beviglia, there will not be any major changes in the upcoming academic year. Instead, the committee is working to research and discuss with faculty how to best go about reshaping Student Government.

“We’re taking a lot of time to look at other schools’ student government models, to speak with faculty because faculty is undergoing some revisions in terms of like their governance structure and seeing how we can actually utilize the shared governance model between faculty and students even more,” Beviglia said.

According to Student Body President Flor De Maria Caceres Godoy ‘22, Student Government is strongly committed to seeing these changes through no matter the challenges ahead. 

“Due to the fact that we are seeing an increase in collaboration or the need to intersect with different [Student Government] committees or different college departments and offices, we want there to be a more feasible process through which these interactions can take place,” Caceres wrote in an email.

Caceres echoed Beviglia, noting that the committee is currently solely focused on review and analysis of possible solutions and that no conclusive change should be expected soon.

Our Constitution and Bylaws review Ad Hoc committee is reviewing different models that would change our student government structure, but the voting process will be taking place later on in the semester when we feel comfortable enough to make those changes and make sure the transition phase is as smooth as possible for the following year,” Caceres wrote.

Charles was unsure of what the timetable may be for a presentation of said changes to the General Student Body, but no major changes should be expected this semester.