Ruthie Braunstein/The Hoya Andrew Katz (COL ’01) presented his case to the Constitutional Committee last night against the Yard. The decision could impact a referendum on the Yard proposal. The GUSA Constitutional Council is set to rule today on three formal complaints regarding the Yard Student Association’s proposal to radically restructure student government at Georgetown. The rulings could determine whether or not the proposal appears on a referendum scheduled for later this month

A decision on the complaints is expected by 1 p.m. today, GUSA officials said.

Presented by Andrew Katz (COL ’01), the first complaint said that the Yard proposal is unconstitutional. Katz said the GUSA proposal seeks to circumvent the GUSA constitution’s amendments process by repealing the entire institution and substituting it with the Yard constitution. He said the GUSA constitution requires specific amendments be made to existing text, not entire substitutions.

Nate Willems (SFS ’01), of the Yard steering committee, said that he did not believe the constitution was violated by the proposal, but also said the Yard committee was not fully prepared to speak on the issue.

In response to the Constitutional Council meeting, a Georgetown student told The Hoya yesterday that he is considering filing a lawsuit under Washington, D.C. law against GUSA and Georgetown University. Wesley Cross (SFS ’03), who declined to disclose the name of the lawyer he has contacted, said he is partial to neither the Yard nor GUSA and is acting in the interest of student rights.

“The bases for my contention are . in an organization such as GUSA, bylaws are contracts between the member and the association, enforceable in court. Amendment by global substitution is perfectly legal under D.C. law,” Cross said. “The procedures that have been followed by GUSA are utterly unfair and contrary to good form and parliamentary and associational law.”

Matt Brennan (SFS ’03), spokesman for the Yard, said the Yard had nothing to do with the suit.

“This is chaos. Some solution needs to happen,” Brennan said. “This is getting out of hand.”

GUSA officials said they have not been served with any official notice of a lawsuit.

“I think it’s unfortunate that student government at a university of Georgetown’s caliber becomes an issue for litigation,” GUSA President Tawan Davis (COL ’01) said.

Timothy Goodman (SFS ’92), one of the original drafters of the current GUSA constitution submitted a statement to the council saying that the “Yard referendum seeks to impose an entirely new governing system by ignoring the plain meaning and the drafter’s original intent of the GUSA constitution.”

GUSA Communications Director J.P. Hornbeck (COL ’03) said that Goodman’s opinion was privately requested and that GUSA as an organization was not involved.

Also, proponents of the Yard has consulted lawyer Daniel Press who supports their positions concerning the complaints.

Katz’s second complaint to the Constitutional Committee meeting was that substantive changes to the Yard proposal would require a new petition of 20 percent of the student body’s signatures.

“I think students were unaware of important facts and my guess is that they are still unaware,” Katz said.

Constitutional Committee Chair Chris Ray (SFS ’01) said that the committee ruled last week that supporters of the Yard could make procedural and superficial changes to their constitution but no substantive alternations to the content would be accepted.

Willems said that the first Yard constitution was presented to receive the student signatures, and both the original document and the revised constitution are available online for students to view.

According to Katz, the GUSA constitution requires a 21-day advance prior to the referendum. Because the Yard’s constitution recently changed, the calendar mandated by the constitution does not allow the student body to vote on the referendum on the Feb. 26 ballot, when students will also vote on GUSA executive candidates.

The third complaint filed against the proposal addressed how many votes would be needed to amend the current GUSA constitution, a source of disagreement between many of those involved in the process.

Aaron Polkey (COL ’02) who presented the final complaint, said that according to the GUSA constitution, the “affirmative referendum of no less than one-fourth of the entire undergraduate student body, provided that this affirmative vote constitutes the majority of the total votes cast in the referendum.”

Conversely, Willems said that those trying to institute the Yard interpreted the constitution to mean that 25 percent of the student body must participate in the referendum and the majority of that 25 percent must vote in favor of the referendum for any amendments to be made.

Thursday’s constitutional committee meeting caps a week-long discussion between GUSA and proponents of the Yard. On Tuesday, members of the GUSA legislative assembly offered feedback on the Yard’s constitution. Those supporting the Yard said they would consider the changes proposed at the meeting, but a final proposal for the referendum must be submitted by Monday.

Originally, Tuesday’s assembly meeting was closed to the public, but Davis said it was opened at the last minute because of the large interest from the student body.

“The meeting was initially closed because it is a sensitive issue, and we thought people would be more comfortable speaking if it were closed,” Davis said.

According to GUSA’s constitution, all meetings of the Assembly must be open to the public.

There will be a special meeting of the GUSA Assembly open to the public on Sunday at 9 p.m. for further discussion of the proposal concerning the Yard.

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