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UA draft constitution & bylaws released for new government

After months of committee work, the UA has released a draft constitution and bylaws for a revamped governing structure, which President Allan E. Miramonti ’13 hopes to instate during an IAP transition period. The proposed changes went to debate at the UA Senate last night, and Senate will have to approve the changes within three meetings — otherwise, they must be re-submitted.

The new UA government will be substantially different, replacing the Senate with a UA Council comprised of dormitory, Interfraternity Council (IFC), Living Group Council (LGC), and Panhellenic Association (Panhel) presidents, in addition to an off-campus representative. The IFC will have three additional representatives beyond their president, and Panhel will have two.

Here’s a rundown of some of the biggest changes the UA will see if these drafts are approved:

• The primary body of the UA will be a 21-member Council, with membership as defined above. The UA president will chair the council, but can only vote if his or her vote would change the outcome. The UA vice president, chief of staff, treasurer, secretary, UA committee chairs, and assistant vice presidents will be nonvoting members of the Council. The Council “shall strive to protect the rights of students and serve to foster cooperation and communication among the various segments of the MIT community.”

• Council representatives are tasked with “communicating the business of the UA” to their respective constituencies.

• Policy positions will be approved via “consensus of the council.” Policy positions “serve as the definitive undergraduate opinion on a given issue.”

• Population votes by the Council will determine the allocation of UA funds and amendments to the constitution. Under a population voting scheme, each representative will be able to cast one vote per undergraduate that he or she represents (e.g., the Baker president would cast about 320 votes, one for each student in the dorm). By default, an undergraduate’s vote would count towards the constituency where he or she officially lives (in the case of FSILG members who live in a dormitory), but undergraduates can request to change their official constituency.

• If an undergraduate is present during a population vote, he or she may cast a single vote of his or her own, with or against however their representative votes. Undergraduates can also submit votes prior to a Council meeting in writing or by email.

• Still other decisions will be made by “person votes,” in which each representative on the council casts a single vote. Person votes will be held to approve new officers, approve Institute Committee representatives, and amend Council bylaws, among other things.

• The UA president may call emergency meetings of the Council. Emergency meetings can also be called by a majority of the voting Council representatives or by signed petition of five percent of undergraduates.

• Similar to the current system, the UA will have five principal officers: president, vice president, chief of staff, treasurer, and secretary (the current positions of Senate speaker and Senate vice-chair will be eliminated).

• Dormitory Affairs and Dormitory Funding Committees will be responsible for reviewing dormitory-specific issues and distributing funds contributed by dormitories. Dormitories can decide for themselves whether to contribute funds. Dormitory Committees will be allowed more freedom and flexibility than other UA committees.

• Like now, specific policy work will be completed by standing UA committees manned by undergraduates. The UA will also coordinate the appointment of undergraduate representatives to Institute Committees, which address policy on an MIT-wide level.

The full text of UA bylaw and constitution drafts can be found at http://tech.mit.edu/V131/N52/uadrafts/ua_council_bylaws_draft.pdf and http://tech.mit.edu/V131/N52/uadrafts/ua_constitution_draft.pdf, respectively.

Ethan A. Solomon