October 12, 2001

Students elect SG reps and abolish court

In a move that Student Government (SG) president Ben Aderson sees as indicative of students' concerns for SG, the Student Assembly (SA) court was abolished by a 61 percent majority. This change was put into effect during the elections for class representatives for the 2001-2002 academic year.

Members of the SA court were appointed to resolve disputes between Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs), students, and SG itself. The court received public attention last year when former Chief Justice Jeremy Posadas avoided impeachment by a margin of one vote. The SA court was called into action again in the spring when disputes arose during the elections of the SG Executive Slates.

“Last year, the SA court did more than it ever had done in the previous three years, and some of the people who passed the amendment felt that it did more than it had the authority to do," Aderson said.

According to Aderson, many students voted to pass this amendment after growing disillusioned with the bureaucracy within SG. “I think students don't want to see SG focus its attention on internal disputes," he said. “What we're focusing on this year in response to this is making sure that we're taking care of practical every day concerns for students."

The amendment, which also lowered the requirements for impeaching members of SG from a 3/4 to a 2/3 majority vote, was proposed and passed by the elected assembly in the spring. In order to change the SG constitution, however, each amendment requires a 60 percent majority from the voting student population.

“I have mixed feelings about it," Aderson said. “On the one hand, I don't think the SA court was the proper body to carry out the functions that it was assigned; on the other hand, I think we still have work to do to provide a mechanism to resolve these disputes when they arise."

In addition, University of Chicago students now have faces to go with the voices that will represent them for the 2001-2002 academic year. The results have been posted for the fall elections of the General Assembly. A total of 379 students took part in the elections. Of those, 247 first-years, 126 second-years, 110 third-years, 55 fourth-years, and 6 nth-year students voted.

Second-year elect Jasmine Harris said she was primarily influenced to run for office this year based on her prior experiences with SG. “I didn't even know who my reps were [last year], and I think a lot of students feel estranged from student government in general," she said. “I wanted to have a vote and to hopefully bring the SG closer to the students."

“Overall, our number one job is to improve students' experience here," Aderson said. “We want to reach out to all students and to remind them that all committees are open to them if they have a particular concern — we want to make sure that Student Government is an approachable body and something that anyone can get involved in. Especially important though is to get students' practical issues addressed."

As a newly elected member of the assembly, Harris brings her own goals to the position. “Last year we had a huge sum left over at the end of the year from student activities fees, and I think a lot of groups felt discouraged from applying for SG money. My goal this year is not to be as strict, but at the same time to maintain the integrity with which funds are allocated to student organization," she said.