Illustration courtesy of Student Government Association at UTSA
Over the summer the Student Government Association at UTSA made amendments to its constitution. In a Q&A with the Speaker of the Senate, Zach Nepote, the updates are further clarified and expanded upon
Q- What are the new provisions in the constitution?
ZN: There are many new provisions in the newly drafted constitution such as the establishment of functional committees, making General Assembly meetings every other week, and new positions. For example, we established a Financial Affairs committee that is chaired by the Treasurer and deals with the finances of the organization. The Internal Affairs committee is chaired by the new position, Deputy Speaker, which is like the Speaker’s assistant. The IA committee deals with disputes, attendance, violations of by-laws or organizational policy, along with other internal things.
Q- What are the reasons behind the changes?
ZN: These changes have been long coming and overdue. Consolidating our organization is our number one priority. Our current constitution mandates extra steps, extra bureaucracy, and less transparency. This newly drafted constitution consolidates processes, increases transparency, and ensures we are not bogged down by processes.
Q- Can you explain the changes behind the judicial branch?
.ZN: Of course. In this model, the SGA would be a dual branch system comprised of the Internal Branch (senators) and External Branch (liaisons, communications, and elections).
The reason behind removing the Judicial Branch is that we need to consolidate processes. The Judicial Branch is tasked with dealing with unconstitutionality and elections. However, the branch has not had to make a decision regarding constitutionality because the organization works closely with the University Administration and our advisor to ensure there is no violation of anything. It is important to remember that this is about streamlining the process and not getting bogged down with bureaucratic paperwork.
Q- How did the constitutional committee work?
ZN: The meetings were conducted every Tuesday and Sunday for about two hours a session. I chaired the meeting, facilitated discussion, and assisted in the writing of the draft. We discussed the roles of the functional committees, the frequency of the General Assembles, qualifications to run for President, and increasing stipends to other students. My role was to chair the committee along with seeking insight from the Senate and discuss/solve their concerns.
Q: What are the steps to ratifying the new constitution?
ZN: It’s a long process, to say the least. We must propose it before the Student Body Senate, the Student Body, and University Administration.