Constitutional convention addresses student concerns; updates amendments

Cecilia Engbert
Assistant Editor

Franciscan University Student Government held a constitutional convention March 25-27 to discuss its mission, address student concerns, discuss student origination partnerships and draft updated constitutional and bylaw amendments.

Senior President Alex McKenna said one of the convention’s biggest outcomes was a greater understanding of where student government is failing and what issues need to be addressed.

“Two buzzwords from the convention are transparency and accountability,” he said.

McKenna said most things in student government flow from the president to the senate. New constitutional and bylaw amendment changes will give predominant power to the legislative instead of the executive power.

“Practically, what that will mean for the everyday student is instead of trying to track down the president, they’ll be able to track down one of 12 … or 13 senators,” McKenna said.

An amendment was drawn up at the convention that would enact councils in each dorm to pass legislation through the senate relating to dorm needs. This would represent individual student’s needs, McKenna said.

FUSG went through financial process during the convention and formalized existing processes so that money can be kept safe and used appropriately.

Changes to bylaw amendments were passed through the rules and order committee Sunday, the last day of the convention; were presented to the senate Monday at FUSG’s informal meeting; and voted on Wednesday at the weekly meeting. If signed by McKenna, these amendments will become law. Similarly, the constitutional amendments passed through the phases and will appear on the April 5 ballot.

McKenna said the last constitutional convention was in 2006 when there was a complete overhaul of the constitution and bylaw amendments.

The convention exceeded McKenna’s expectations, in most regards. “There were conversations that we had on the table that I honestly had no idea where they were going to go, and I was very impressed by where the convention took (them).”

The student engagement survey data from last semester showed that students do not know what student government does or how it operates, McKenna said, acknowledging there is a “significant transparency and accountability problem.”

“The convention was a wake-up call; how the student body views student government and ultimately that student government needs to change to be representative of the student body, and that today we are not,” he said.

McKenna said although 25 people were invited and the convention was open to the public, sessions were sparsely attended.

McKenna said he hopes the changes made at the convention make it easier for students to make real, impactful changes through student government representation.

“If you are interested in how student government spends your money — $460 every semester for four years, which is a lot of money at the end of the day — and if you are interested in learning how student government represents your concerns to the administrations, don’t sit on the sidelines,” McKenna said. “Act, join us, run for elected office, talk with the president, talk with the senators, learn your class, make an effort.”