We the … people?

Student Government Association held a constitutional convention for students — but no students showed up

Lester Duhe

Zero students took advantage of Student Government Association’s attempt to form a more perfect union.

SGA held a Constitutional Convention that gave students the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns, but only SGA senators showed up.

The convention was held on Nov. 7 in the Audubon Room. SGA’s intent was to have students attend the meeting and present their concerns and opinions about the new constitution after looking it over on OrgSync.

Despite SGA’s efforts to get the word out about the convention through emails and flyers, no students attended the meeting.

“Although attendance at the convention was low, senators came prepared with concerns raised by their constituents and were able to speak to students’ interests,” Nate Ryther, SGA vice president, said.

Ryther said that SGA senators do not think the lack of student support at the meeting was due to a lack of preparation.

“We sent out a campus-wide email, advertised on social media, tabled to talk about the event and put flyers up around campus to inform the student body when and where the event was happening,” Ryther said.

Ryther wanted to make it clear that their preparation did start some conversations with the student body before the meeting took place.

“Students talked to senators, executive members and among themselves about the new constitution, and that insight from students was reflected in the convention,” Ryther said.

W.H. “Butch” Oxendine, executive director of the American Student Government Association, compared an SGA constitution to a U.S. constitution.

“It is critical that the student body is involved,” Oxendine said. “Once they input changes to the Constitution, it should come to a vote from the students.”

When last year’s members of SGA attempted to impeach Blake Corely as vice president, they had no impeachment procedure in the constitution to guide them through the process.

Due to this error, SGA President Budd Sheppard and Vice President Nate Ryther ran their campaigns with a promise to draft a new constitution.

Ryther said that SGA has been drafting the constitution since this summer. However, Oxendine said that the energy and time it took to re-write it was a mistake.

“The time they spend amending the Constitution should be used to help the students instead,” Oxendine said.

Allison Rogers, SGA’s communication director, said that it is SGA’s mission to represent the student body to the best of their ability.

“We would never want to put out a document that the student body couldn’t agree with us on, because that would just be counterintuitive to what our purpose as SGA is,” Rogers said.

Oxendine said that Loyola’s SGA is a part of the 50 percent of student governments amending their constitutions each year.

For Rogers, these changes are quite frequent. She said that since she’s attended Loyola, every administration that has come into office has wanted to change the constitution.

“What they’ve done is just create these amendments that contradict one another — that contradict the constitution as a whole — and kind of made this document that doesn’t really make sense anymore,” Rogers said.

Despite the lack of students at the Constitutional Convention, Ryther said he is excited with the interest SGA received in regards to the constitution.

“While that interest wasn’t reflected in physical attendance at the convention, it was seen in the emails and meetings that occurred prior to the event and the concerns that senators raised on behalf of their constituents,” Ryther said.

On Wednesday, Nov. 12, the Senate passed the new constitution unanimously. It will now move towards a campus-wide referendum where it will require a two-thirds majority vote by the students. Voting is set to take place from Nov. 19 to Nov. 21.