CC constitution ballot initiative to be voted on

As a part of the upcoming College Council (CC) elections, there will be a campus-wide vote to ratify several amendments to the existing CC constitution. In order for this new version of the constitution to pass, 50 percent of the student body must vote and 2/3 of those voting must vote in favor of the amendments.

There are several changes proposed which, according to Mike Henry ’04, CC treasurer and one of the drafters of the new constitution, will make CC more organized. Furthermore, several loopholes, which existed in the old constitution, have been eliminated.

One of the most critical new clauses reads: “The Council serves as the voice of the Student Body to the Faculty, Administration, Staff and Williamstown community. In this capacity, the Council may lobby for change in College and Town policy on behalf of the student body.”

In the past few years, CC has been gradually increasing its role as an advocacy body in addition to its traditional role allocating funding for various student organizations.

Henry called this change “institutionalizing advocacy” and emphasized that it “will make CC more relevant to the student body.”

Another amendment will decrease council membership to 25 students, which, according to the constitution drafters, will serve to increase the accountability of CC members.

This decrease will mainly be a result of restricting the number of housing representatives in an effort to make elections more competitive. With fewer representatives in CC, housing representatives will have larger constituencies with which to stay in contact.

There are also numerous smaller organizational changes to the constitution. While they may seem irrelevant to students, Henry says that they will serve to increase the council’s overall legitimacy and effectiveness.

For example, minutes from appointments, in-camera sessions and meetings excluding those outside of CC will not be published.

Although these sessions are very rare, the goal of the amendment is to eliminate bias in appointments of new CC members, where council members often feel pressure to vote a certain way.

Henry emphasized that this will “not close off council in any way,” since non-council members will still have a chance to speak prior to the in-camera session. The goal is simply to make the process fairer.

Partly in response to the recent changes to the CC presidency, there is now a clause stating: “Any vacancy of a position shall be filled by a two-thirds majority vote of Council.

In the case that the Council is unable to reach a two-thirds majority, the position shall be filled by an election of the representative constituency.” Therefore, if a similar stalemate over choosing someone to fill a CC vacancy occurs, there will be a vote by the student body.

Other sections fill in loopholes, which have been problematic in the current constitution, such as requiring all CC members to be students at the College and only allowing council members to have one seat.

Last year, there was a similar amended constitution up for ratification. It failed to pass since the required 50 percent of the student body did not vote, although a majority of those who did vote voted in favor of the amendments.

After so much work on the part of council members, Henry and others “felt it was important to revive” the discussion. “A more effective, more organized CC will directly affect the student body,” said Henry.

This year, there will be more efforts to publicize the constitutional ballot initiative, including advocacy from within presidential campaigns, a possible poster campaign, and making JOSE the front page of WSO during the election.