Student Senate implements new constitution


Evelyn Li

President Ron Lewis of the Student Senate facilitates the General Meeting held at the Illini Union on Wednesday, August 31, 2016. (DSC_0105)

By Gillian Dunlop, Staff Writer

From approving Indigenous People’s Day to the advocating for sexual assault awareness, the Illinois Student Senate made some big changes this semester.

Perhaps one of the biggest changes the senate will enact next semester is the implementation of its new constitution.

“The (new) constitution is pretty exciting,” said Vice President – External Alex Villanueva. “We’ve worked on it for quite some time. We’ve had problems with our (current) constitution for over a decade.”

The constitution, however, almost did not make it on the ballot. The senate needed about 2,500 student signatures and it came down to the last couple of days to accomplish that goal.

“We banded together; we were a team,” said Vice President Internal Spencer Haydary.

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Part of the newly enacted constitution is the change in the format of the senate.

“We’ll adopt a new registry, we’ll have a code of ethics and we’ll have a streamlined organization that will be more efficient,” Haydary said.

The senate plans on making the University’s funding one of its primary goals.

“We’re going to advocate for the University as a whole and try to get a budget for our campus,” said President Ron Lewis.

Even with the new constitution, the senate’s primary concern remains the same: the students.

“It’s really important to try and include different groups and different voices that usually don’t get heard, and I think my senators did a really good job at making sure those voices got heard,” Lewis said.

For Lewis, the vigil held after the shooting on Green Street was the most impactful moment of the semester.

“(The senate) did a lot of work in the days that followed (the shooting) to make sure everyone felt safe,” he said. “When I look back at what (the) student senate has done, that’s what stands out to me because it wasn’t about us, it was about the community.”

The senate also worked with the national campaign, It’s On Us, to help spread sexual assault awareness. They collected signatures from students to take the pledge to help end sexual assault.

“It’s On Us was huge,” Villanueva said. “It was a very successful campaign.”

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