After much deliberation from University of Wisconsin’s student government, causing representatives to laugh, quarrel and storm out screaming, the Associated Students of Madison passed its new constitution referendum Wednesday by an 83 percent majority.
The new ASM Constitution: A Sound Structure for Subsequent Sessions passed 20-4, with one abstinence at a ASM Student Council meeting. The entire student body will vote on the 15-page document March 11-13 during the ASM Spring Election Ballot. If passed, the new constitution will go into effect May 1.
ASM Nominations Board Chair Sean McNally proposed the new constitution a week ago to the tune of mixed reactions from students who passed various amendments to its legislation.
While the constitution is quite similar to the current one ASM uses, McNally said Feb. 6 this newly approved model streamlines the process of student government funding and focuses campus outreach to a greater degree.
An ASM statement said the new legislative branch of ASM would include a Student Senate, President’s Council and grassroots committee, as well as a President and Vice President in the Executive Branch.
“I’m extremely excited,” McNally said. “I look forward to hearing from students and outreaching so we come to vote on this everyone is on the same page … I’ll be happy with it one way or another. I’ll know that we gave the students an option, and that’s what it’s about.”
ASM Chair Andrew Bulovsky said the overwhelming vote of support for the new constitution represents the desire of Student Council to allow students to vote on the issue. He said the ball is now in their court and it’s their “job to pass it,” although they have the option not to do so.
During deliberation, University Affairs Chair Becca Buell expressed concern in a statement over the constitution being passed too abruptly even though she thinks no grassroots campaign reform is necessary. The constitution had only two weeks for council members to vote on because all referenda have to be passed by Friday.
Representative Libby Wick-Bander said no public policy was considered before drafting the constitution. She said she also worried the constitution endorses ASM bureaucracy and could destroy the approximately $40 million General Student Services Fund.
Bulovsky said her anxiety likely stemmed from the potential for change of this new legislation. However, he said that is the purpose of the new constitution.
“She’s probably concerned because things could change slightly, but that’s the nature of politics and the nature of life,” Bulovsky said. “Things will never stay stagnant for too long or they become atrophy.”
Student Council also voted 18-1 to pass an amendment to the ASM Bylaws definition of viewpoint neutrality. The new definition eliminates the previous wording, which considered all procedural violations de facto viewpoint neutrality violations.
According to Student Services Finance Committee Chair Ellie Bruecker, the new definition of viewpoint neutrality abides by the 2000 Supreme Court ruling in Board of Regents in the UW System v. Southworth that said viewpoint neutrality means not taking the viewpoint of the group asking for funding into consideration.
The council also debated the controversial name and $3,000 endorsement of the May 4 event tentatively called Revelry coinciding with the traditional Mifflin Street Block Party.
ASM Vice Chair Maria Giannopoulos said ASM endorsed the event in December, thus the student government can help pay for it. However, these decisions are not fixed yet, she said.
“If people want to do things, they can do whatever they see fit, but right now, it’s called Revelry and ASM is contributing to it,” Giannopoulos said.