Student Council constitution reform good, beneficial to students

Meredith Comas, Opinions Editor

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In a time where political forces are shaky throughout the world, doing anything involved  with government can be a bit of a risk — even student government. On Wednesday, the Manhattan High Student Council passed a new constitution with a 37-0 vote factoring in students’ needs, voices and wants for their school. This marks the first time the constitution has changed since 2015.

This new constitution has a number of small changes that can minorly effect the student body, and a few big changes that will majorly affect the council. It is the agreement of The Mentor editorial board that these changes aren’t necessarily bad.

Many of the changes only affect the inner-runnings of the council, such as dealing with violations of council members. However, a lot of this could potentially affect representation.

Article IV, Section A, Clause 2 of the new constitution states “each class shall elect and be represented by up to twelve of its members, comprised of four class officers… and up to eight Class Representatives. These members of all the classes shall form the legislative body of StuCo.” This is no different than the previous constitution except for one minor thing. In the Subclause, it states the above clause is subject to change on a semester basis. This change shall be put in motion by the class and voted on by a majority council vote, allowing the representative limit to change from eight to 12.

The new constitution will also help more evenly distribute voting power throughout the council. The old constitution did not restrict against major abuses of presidential power. According to members of the Constitution and Rules Committee, the previous constitution allowed the president to remove any officer with only 25 percent of the council present and have such extreme veto power it was almost laughable.

The committee saw this as a major point to change, rewriting Article III to restrict those abuses of power and give the council more voting power as whole.

The other big change to the constitution for the council is how StuCo will handle in-council violations and constitutional laws and student misconduct. The council has always had a Private Hearing Committee, which is the enforcer of major violations within the council. This committee is a confidential panel made up of the accused member — who has no voting rights — plus Student Body officers, the class president of the accused, the faculty sponsor, and the Activities Director. The changes regarding the committee should not directly affect the student body itself, except in the case of succession.

In the past, in the event of succession or removal from office, Student Body and class officers were replaced by current representatives, and class representatives were replaced by the alternate in the class election. However, the new constitution appoints the Vice President to take over Student Body and Class President positions. Other Student Body officers, class officers, and representatives are replaced by an appointed nominee, voted on by a majority vote by the council.

While there isn’t much of a problem with this, it does slightly take away  from student-say in representative appointment to the council, which can potentially either limit students’ voice or allow the council to appoint only those who truly fit the role to StuCo.

The Mentor chooses to take the position of the latter statement. During the election process, students often only pay attention to the “funny” candidate or their friend, rather than clearly weighing whether or not the candidate actually fits the job.

These constitutional changes allow for a more efficient student government at MHS, and council appointment for representatives — only in the case of vacant office — ensures that whoever the role goes to will, at the very least, take it seriously.  

There is no reason to worry about this political move, Manhattan High. For those who are really worried, the council is always open to student voices; speak up.

 

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Student Council constitution reform good, beneficial to students