Senate to vote on changes to constitution

By Reubin Turner and
Rebecca Flannery
City Editor and Staff Writer

Exactly 800 changes to the Student Body Constitution are up for approval at Thursday’s Student Senate meeting, some of which have drawn scrutiny from both members of Student Court and the Senate.

Among the proposed amendments are those in Article IV pertaining to the judicial branch, which Humble sophomore Memona Niazi stated were “preposterous” in an email to the Lariat.

One of the proposed changes is to strike the allowance of “other individuals as authorized by the Chief Justice” from attending the hearings, meaning only those directly involved in the case and student government advisors would be able to attend hearings.

“This is ridiculous,” Niazi wrote. She also wrote that the importance of the student body being able to hold all forms of student government accountable, and that being able to attend hearings was vital to transparency.

“By closing the meetings, the student government saves themselves from being held accountable by the student body,” Niazi wrote.

Other amendments to the constitution deal with changes to the student body election processes, as well as concerns senators had about the Electoral Commission’s interpretation of the Electoral Code.

According to the constitution, if the changes proposed by Arlington senior Dominic Edwards, student body president, were to be approved by the Senate, the changes would then go up before the student body for passage. Port Barre, La., sophomore Lindsey Bacque said the changes to the constitution must pass together, or not at all, unless amendments are made.

These proposed changes come after Senate representatives met in court Tuesday night to challenge the commission’s stance on the campaigning section of the Electoral Code.

Roswell, N.M., junior Cody Coll, who serves as chief justice for Student Court, said the case is still pending approval from Dr. Elizabeth Palacios, dean for student development.

“We’ve heard the oral arguments and are in the process of writing an opinion,” Coll said.

Lombard, Ill., senior Danny Huizinga, representing Frisco junior James Porter, argued his stance against Electoral Commissioner Sarah Park, a senior.

Prior to the court hearing, the Electoral Commission stated candidates and campaign workers for the upcoming Student Senate elections were not allowed to use their social media platforms to campaign.

Huizinga said the rule interfered with the rights of those campaigning.

“To my knowledge, all of the candidates in this year’s election support our side and have been trying to fight for free speech against the Electoral Commission’s overreach,” Huizinga said. “This is a constitutional issue, not a political one.”

The court decision will mandate whether or not using social media will be allowed in the campaign strategy by campaign workers.

According to section 3.2.6 of the Electoral Code, non-campaign workers can’t be restricted from campaigning by making a public statement on their own behalf in support of a candidate, wearing T-shirts or using other campaign materials.

“If Student Court rules in our favor, as we anticipate they will, candidates and campaign workers will once again have their free speech rights restored,” Huizinga said.

Huizinga said his argument was met with slight push-back Tuesday night.

“The Electoral Commission tried to argue that they had the dangerous power to prohibit candidates and campaign workers from speaking on their personal Facebook pages,” Huizinga said. “They also claimed that this policy was nothing new.”

However, Huizinga said he was able to show evidence of candidates’ social media campaigns from the past three election years.

Park could not be reached for comment.