USS approves charter changes

Jackie Valley

The Undergraduate Student Senate unanimously approved charter changes to restructure and expand the current student government at its meeting yesterday.

The vote ends a month of discussion and four “Constitutional Convention” meetings among USS, student organization leaders and students.

“This is the most wide-sweeping, progressive and positive change that the student government has voted on since 1975,” said Ross Miltner, executive director of USS.

The charter changes include the reorganization of the All Campus Programming Board and the expansion of the current USS to create a two-body government consisting of an Executive Cabinet and a Senate.

Under the new structure, called the Undergraduate Student Government, there would be nine elected director positions similar to the current USS positions and 16 senator positions – 10 elected senators to represent the academic colleges and six appointed senators to represent international students, non-traditional students, residence hall students, off-campus and commuter students and diversity.

The director of programming in the USG will chair the Programming Board Committee – the reorganized ACPB – and will be responsible for appointing undergraduate students to the committee.

Before the final vote securing Miltner’s proposed changes, ACPB members offered their own proposal regarding the reorganization of ACPB.

ACPB proposed having the director of programming work as the liaison between USS and ACPB, instead of serving as the chair of the organization.

“Ultimately, the goal of this is to avoid having a popularly elected president serve,” said Christopher Taylor, vice president of ACPB. “Having them take over the presidency would be chaotic.”

Under their proposal, ACPB’s budget would remain the same – 54 percent of the Undergraduate Student Activities Fund – with a portion of that budget reserved for BlastOff!, FlashFest, Homecoming and one additional program. The remainder of the budget would be reserved in the Allocations Committee for ACPB.

However, Community Affairs Senator Justin Jeffery said ACPB’s proposal would minimize the role of the director of programming.

After the vote approving USS’s reorganization of ACPB, Shana Scott, president of ACPB, said she was disappointed in the final outcome because she felt USS did not follow through with some of its requests to help improve the organization.

“If they’re disappointed in us, I’m disappointed in them,” she said. “It’s unfortunate we can’t do anything to regulate them for not doing their job, but they can regulate us for attempting to improve.”

But Benjamin Feld, student advancement senator, said he believes the change is positive.

“I’m confident in our vote today,” he said. “I think we’ll be proud of our vote in future years.”

The charter changes will be put as a referendum on the March 14 USS Election ballot for approval by the student body.

If the referendum passes and the Board of Trustees approves the plan, the new USG will take effect during the 2008-2009 academic year.

Miltner said next year’s USS will be in charge of altering the by-laws and guidelines of the Allocations Committee and USS to provide for the changes.

Also at the meeting, Donovan Hill announced his resignation as a member of the Allocations Committee.

Hill said he felt it would be “hypocritical” to remain on the committee because one of the proposed changes in ad hoc stipulates that only one member of a student organization’s executive board could hold a seat on the Allocations Committee. Hill, president of College Democrats, is currently on the committee in addition to Taylor, communications director of College Democrats.

In an address to USS, Hill said: “If we are to embrace change, we must do it fairly and equally, and it is arrogance and hypocrisy of staggering pedigree for me to stand here and tell you to embrace fairness and true equality and not be willing to lay down my privileges in pursuit of this goal.”

In other business, David Creamer, vice president of administration, spoke to USS about Kent State considering a new budget model revolving around the “Responsibility Center Management (RCM)” approach – a more flexible budget that would allow academic colleges to have budgets similar to regional campuses and auxiliary operations today.

Creamer said the new budget model is necessary because of the change in Kent State’s source of revenue.

“Today our funding isn’t coming from the state,” he said. “It’s coming from tuition.”

He said about 30 percent of the university’s revenue in 2006 came from the state compared to 62 percent in 1980. Tuition currently accounts for about 60 percent of the revenue.

Contact student politics reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].