Student Proposes Amendment to SUA Constitution

Assembly to vote all or nothing in spring

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In an ambitious move to restructure the Student Union Assembly (SUA), third-year and SUA College Nine representative Stephan Edgar wants to amend the SUA Constitution. In its current form as of March 11, his proposal would make more than 162 revisions to the existing document in an attempt to pass the amendments under a single-sweep proposal.

“I’m hoping that the changes of the Constitution provide a framework for better accountability, less hostility during meetings and also better representation specifically for student organizations on this campus,” Edgar said.

The amendment proposal contains both specific and broad edits from redefining quorum to formalizing SUA’s core values in a preamble. Sixty revisions alter the responsibilities and requirements of being an SUA member. Its largest change would establish a Judicial Council. At this point, there is no oversight committee of SUA as a whole.

The Judicial Council would scrutinize SUA decisions and act as a form of oversight. Composed of seven members, it would interpret the constitution, investigate officer behavior and make impeachment recommendations.

“I think Stephan did a great job, and I hope the amendment does pass,” said SUA Vice President of External Affairs Davon Thomas in an email. “No one has taken this initiative for institutional change in a while, specifically for the constitution.”

Annual campus elections happen in the spring, but before Edgar’s amendment can be placed on the ballot he needs a petition signed by at least 10 percent of all registered undergraduate students, approval from two-thirds of the campus’ college governments or approval from SUA. If it meets one of the requirements, it will then appear on the ballot to be voted on by the student body.

Proposing the amendment as an undergraduate student — instead of his position as an SUA College Nine representative — Edgar thinks his best option is through SUA.

SUA approval requires quorum during an SUA meeting. Edgar scheduled to have a vote on the proposal during its last winter quarter meeting, on March 11. But quorum was not met and the vote was rescheduled for SUA’s first spring meeting on April 2.

Edgar began working on an amendment proposal the end of fall quarter after SUA’s fall concert controversy.

“There’s a lot of mistrust about the SUA right now,” Edgar said. “I think it’s important to really stress the need for SUA to be welcoming and communicative with all of the kind of students that are incorporated on this campus. Because the SUA is the only space that is recognized by the UC regents as a legitimate voice for the students.”

In fall 2018, four of the Big Five ethnic organizations confronted SUA about its management of a concert featuring Sage the Gemini Concerns about transparency, accountability and the overall relationship between SUA and the student body followed.

“My intent was probably most crystal clear around the time of that huge wake up call to what the SUA has been failing at doing and where we needed to improve,” Edgar said.

The proposal was brought to the attention of SUA Vision Committee in February, chaired by Merrill SUA representative Emma Cunningham, to receive preliminary feedback. Edgar is a co-chair of the committee.

“We worked on it because it’s something that we’re interested in,” Cunningham said. “We’re working with [Edgar] to help him have the most representative and best language that he can for that amendment before he puts it on the ballot.”

She emphasized her goal of closing what she sees as loopholes in the SUA constitution.

There’s a lot of mistrust about the SUA right now. I think it’s important to really stress the need for SUA to be welcoming and communicative with all of the kind of students that are incorporated on this campus. Because the SUA is the only space that is recognized by the UC regents as a legitimate voice for the students.

Stephan Edgar, UCSC undergraduate student

On Feb. 26, Edgar proposed the initial stages of the amendment revisions to SUA in a presentation. He has since garnered significant feedback on revisions from assembly members. Edgar emailed a total of 27 student organizations, including ethnic organizations, but did not receive significant feedback.

Edgar said he wants to make his intentions public to the broader student community in UC Santa Cruz. On March 6 he announced his proposal and asked for feedback in a Facebook post on the Official Group of UCSC Students page, a Facebook page of more than 23,000 UCSC students, alumni and other affiliates. The post received 51 reactions and four unique comments.

“I don’t want to be the only person that the SUA is relying on in order to get this done,” Edgar said. “Because then you’re going to get all of my implicit biases and all of my concerns being put in and prioritized over anything else. And that’s not fair.”

Edgar plans to discuss the proposal and receive feedback from the Cowell Senate Thursday at 7 p.m. and will continue to incorporate feedback and coordinate with others on the amendment’s revisions.

“From my perspective it’s a good first step,” Cunningham said of the proposal. “I mean, obviously, it’s not perfect, there’s no way that any written document is going to be 100 percent perfect for the future of every SUA. But […] if
we’re moving in this direction, it’s a positive direction.”

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Karen Lowe is an arts and culture reporter at City on a Hill Press. Beginning her career as a fact-checker, she gained a passion for asking questions and getting stories right. She believes using facts is a key part in supplementing the human voice. Since her time as a fact-checker, she has worked as a campus reporter and editor—reading, talking and asking questions to uncover stories hidden in the community—and social media editor. She can be contacted at klowe@cityonahillpress.com and followed on Twitter @karenkayelowe.

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