April 17, 2019

Student Government Holds Referendum to Reduce Crossover between Undergrad and Grad Councils

The SGFC meets at Reynolds Club every week.

The SGFC meets at Reynolds Club every week.

Courtesy of University of Chicago

The Student Government (SG) General Assembly voted in early April to initiate a referendum proposing changes to the constitution that would alter the financial and working relationship between College Council (CC) and Graduate Council (GC), essentially reducing the amount and frequency of collaboration between the two councils.

Elections and Rules Chair Taylor Fox, a third-year in the College, notified the student body of the referendum in an email on Monday, saying that the referendum is a “first step in an ongoing discussion of what the relationship between College Council and Graduate Council should look like.”

Four articles of the SG constitution are up for amendment with another up for repeal.

The referendum proposes eliminating Student Government’s Finance Committee (SGFC) as a permanent Standing Committee between CC and GC. This would mean that CC and GC would no longer work jointly on allocating funding to student groups in the College and graduate divisions. A finance committee would still exist under CC by-laws, with the constitutional possibility of establishment in GC.

Currently, liaison positions are mandated by SG’s constitution to be elected in the spring of each academic year as decided by the Election and Rules Committee. The proposed referendum would allow the CC and GC to change the candidacy requirements for the Student Liaisons to the Board of Trustees. This change could make the candidacy requirements for CC Liaisons to the Board of Trustees different from those for their GC counterparts.

Additionally, the referendum would limit the number of Student Government Assembly meetings held jointly between CC and GC to once per quarter. GC would still be constitutionally required to meet four times per quarter outside of the joint meetings.

In order to be put into effect, SG constitutional amendments require the approval of three-fifths of the student body voting in favor.

The GC members who drafted the referendum (GC co-chairs Ryan Duncombe and Jenni Antane, and Graduate Liaison to the Board of Trustees Chris Stamper) expressed their reasons for supporting the referendum in a written statement to The Maroon. They cited efficiency and undue burden on graduate students as factors.

“These changes are the first steps of several that we hope to continue to make towards improving the function of Student Government,” they said. “Allowing CC and GC to more directly represent their own communities without requiring agreement from the other will improve both councils’ abilities to advocate for their own constituents.”

Spring Elections will be held via Blueprint from Monday, May 6, through Wednesday, May 8.