Illinois Student Senate delays constitution vote

By Riley Roberts

After a lengthy evaluation period and an intense evening of contentious debate, the Illinois Student Senate voted last night to postpone action on amending the body’s constitution. The changes will likely come up for action at next Wednesday’s meeting.

“It’s understandable that a lot of the senators want more time to consider an important issue like this,” said Ryan Ruzic, senior in LAS and student body president, in reaction to the controversial vote for postponement. “Changing the constitution is an important step in the evolution of this student government.”

Ruzic, who has been active in ISS since the body’s creation three years ago, told colleagues in the Senate that he would work to try and arrive at some of the proposed compromises.

“I’m hoping to avoid the confusion that we experienced this meeting,” he said.

Colin Bishop, senior and student senator for LAS, was the person who made the motion to table the resolution until next week. He said he felt the executive board had more work to do before the body as a whole could act on the resolution.

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“I felt that the executive board didn’t have a clear plan to proceed in this debate,” he said. “So I think it’s a good idea to give them another week to figure out a process to debate these issues in an orderly manner.”

The meeting as a whole was often tense, and some members found the proceedings to be confusing. These factors, as well as the contested nature of the issues being debated, drove senators to vote for the delay.

The proposed constitution would clarify qualifications for office, allow executive board officers to vote on committees, alter the role of the student president and allow for the direct election of the president by the student body, among other changes.

“There’s also a new graduate senator who served in student government at Berkley who’s advocating for the creation of a judicial branch,” said Jason Webber, graduate student and a vice president of ISS. “I also think it’s too easy to change the constitution – you could pretty much rewrite it every year – so we want to change the procedure for that.”

Many hope executive board members will meet with other senators in the coming week to revamp proposed changes, or at least present a more straightforward way to vote on them. Everyone anticipates next Wednesday’s meeting will be a long one.

“Hopefully … they’ll have a plan to break things up in a way that’s easily understood,” Bishop said.

ISS meetings take place in the Pine Lounge at the Illini Union on Wednesdays at 7 p.m., and they are televised on the following Mondays.