Members of Temple Student Government gathered in the Student Center March 2 to redraft the Student Government Constitution for the first time in 25 years.
The purpose of the Constitutional Convention was to create a new document that will help empower students and make changes within the university, said Juan Galeano, TSG president.
“You guys are the founding fathers and mothers of the new constitution. You are making history,” Galeano said.
Galeano and the TSG Executive Board planned this event all year and were finally able to see it happen. The convention lasted seven hours and resulted in the creation of a completely new constitution.
The Convention began when Ben Starsky, a graduate extern, introduced the idea of the TSG Senate, an idea that he and Galeano have talked about extensively. The Senate will be comprised of students representing different student populations. In total, there will be 24 senators, a parliamentarian, a Senate president and a Senate president pro tempore.
The Senate will hold meetings twice a week, and any student can attend. There will no longer be any General Assembly meetings after this year. Students can voice their concerns at the Senate meetings instead.
“I really think by implementing the Senate, it will really galvanize and draw in more students,” said junior public health major Nalo Robinson.
The main portion of the convention was spent in groups as students discussed the finer points of the Constitution. Students read other schools’ constitutions, gave their ideas, and eventually wrote new articles for the Constitution. Students wrote the preamble, set impeachment procedures, decided on checks and balances, and even planned out the creation of a judicial branch.
The convention attendees emphasized the importance of representing students’ voices in all aspects of the Constitution. Students will be able to go to the Senate meetings and discuss their concerns. With enough support, the Senate can then pass a bill, which will bring more attention to the issue from both the administration and other students.
“It’s going to affect students positively. It’s been written with the students’ best interests in mind,” said Krupa Patel, a freshman biology major. “Everyone who wants to have a say will have a say.”
The collective voice and organization of the Senate will help bring about more change. Starsky showed this idea when he discussed what other student governments had done in the past. He told students a story of how Arizona State’s student government had been able to stop a tuition increase by using the power of the Senate and student voices.
The new Constitution and the Senate will also give TSG more credibility with students and the administration.
“I don’t think a lot of organizations know about TSG. Soon every organization will know about it,” said Jin Lim, a junior business marketing major.
The participants at the Convention were mainly active members of TSG who said they were aware of the significance of the event. Galeano had expressed its importance in many past general assembly meetings.
“Temple students will frame the student voice. This is really making Temple history,” Galeano said last week.
The Constitution requires 1,500 student signatures to be ratified. On March 17, the official Constitution will be presented at the TSG General Assembly meeting.
Rebecca Hale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org