Student Government is to rework the constitution this summer

The Constitutional Revision Committee will be looking to tidy up loopholes and clarify statutes


(Left to right) Carter Lewis, Michael Cepeda, Chris Ferreira, and Aaron Sherman. Max Jackson | Photo Editor

Gregory Cox, Contributing Writer

Student Government is looking to rework their entire constitution and the 12 chapters of statutes that outline how Florida Atlantic University Student Government should operate.

For the first time since 2013, Student Government has assembled a Constitution Revision Committee in order to clarify any confusing or questionable statutes.

This committee contains 20 voting members — two faculty appointments made by vice president of Student Affairs Corey King, three people chosen by the student body president, two appointments by the chief of justice, one seat for the dean of students, and 12 appointments by the houses (four from each house). Terry Mena. and Shontae White, the advisers to Student Government also attend the meetings, but are not voting members.

Headed by Boca Raton governor-elect and current member of the Boca Raton House of Representatives Chris Ferreira, this committee will gather throughout this summer in order to rewrite any of the confusing statutes.

“It used to be that the student body president would call the CRC every year or every summer, then in 2013 … we added a provision saying that we really only wanted to do it every three years, but if the student body president felt that it was necessary, he would be able to call it,” said Ferreira.

Current student body President Michael Cepeda called this years CRC together, otherwise it would have been held in the summer of 2016.

“I am writing this to call to order the 2015 Constitution Revision Committee. Over the years, as some of you may know, student leaders have run into problematic challenges with interpreting between the constitution and statutes,” said Cepeda in an email among SG officials. “This is why I wish to call the Constitution Revision Committee together.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 8.34.10 PMOne of the main reasons for this year’s assemblance of the CRC is the unique situation that arose during the spring election. Ferreira put in two declaration of candidacy forms — one for the governors’ ticket and one for the presidential ticket.

This was an issue that Chair of Elections Carter Lewis, a senior studying history and criminal justice, has never seen before. He is now revising the statutes to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

“I’m changing it so you can only have one [ticket] in at a time, but … allow a 24-hour grace period so after the mandatory candidates meeting, candidates will have 24 hours where you can take out a declaration of candidacy form and submit a new one for a different position,” said Lewis.

Another statute Lewis is looking to alter is statute 316.500(d). This statute states: If a candidate, ticket or party has spent less than ninety-percent (90%) of their total campaign contributions by the end of the campaign period, the candidate will be assessed with a minor violation.

Campaign contributions are the amount of money that each candidate can raise in order to fund the advertising for their campaign.

With how this statute is now, a candidate can raise the full amount of money allowed, not spend any of it, keep the money, and still win the election without being disqualified.

This is because it takes three minor violations — any violation not affecting the outcome of an election — to be disqualified. The only other penalty is a major violation (any violation affecting the outcome, repeated minor violations, or blatant disregard of election statutes), which would result in a disqualification.

“We have a big problem with punishments in elections,” said Lewis. “The Elections Board pretty much has no power. We can only disqualify or reprimand. I was also adding in more punishments, [more of] a middle ground punishment.”

Lewis further explained that he plans to create punishments that would reprimand the candidates by restricting the amount of time for campaigning or attending events, or limit the amount of money that the candidates can raise.

He believes that limiting what a candidate can do can be detrimental to their campaign and would be an appropriate punishment for candidates.

A separate proposal by Lewis is to raise the amount of money that each candidate can collect to fund their campaign.

He argues that by raising the amounts, each candidate would be able to be more creative with their advertising campaign. As the chair of elections, he would be able to spend more of his budget encouraging people to run for office, rather than focusing his funds on advertising the elections.

“I want to advertise the beginning portion. I want to spend all my money trying to get as many people as I can to run, and then they spend and raise the money to get their name out,” said Lewis.

Ferreira also had some preliminary ideas as to what needs to be changed within the statutes.

“There is room for improvement … We’re exploring ideas with changing the way senators are elected,” said Ferreira.

He plans to decrease the amount of power that advisers and other officials have over the decisions SG makes.

“When I was speaker … I needed suits being hung in my office … so I wanted a hanger for the door, and it was about $15 … and I had to get that approved by the adviser,” said Ferreira.  “That’s ridiculous if you ask me.”

These are just a small portion of the changes that Ferreira and the CRC are looking to make.

The CRC will begin meetings over summer, dedicating May to revising the constitution and the rest of the season to edit the chapters of the statutes.

“We’re gonna have a preliminary meeting before the semester ends, just to talk about what should stay the same, what do we like, what do we really need to change,” said Ferreira. “I challenge the student body to take part in the process over summer.”

The general student body can get involved by submitting proposals to the action committee as listed below.

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