As the discussion of GUSA President Kelley Hampton’s (SFS ’05) proposed constitution moves forward, it is important to understand the history of the document.

GUSA reform has been an issue over the past five years and many ideas and attempts at reform have resulted. I hope to clear up any confusion on this issue.

In the late-1990’s, a reform movement began that sought to strengthen student leadership. Using ideas derived from a previous form of student government, The Yard, they sought to resolve funding inequities and to represent students by where they live, what they study and what they do. The movement drafted a constitution that captured this vision of a student association rather than a student government.

In the fall of 2000, those that supported The Yard opened up the discussion to the student body, and by Jan. 2001 had collected enough signatures to put their constitution on the ballot. Hoping to create a broad consensus on what the student government ought to be, GUSA created a Constitutional Review Committee composed of club leaders, Yard supporters and opponents, GUSA members and other students. Consensus developed around the representation issue but disagreements over funding remained. Political issues prevented any document from going to a vote.

Yard supporters went forward with their document, and in spring 2002 the document was rejected. Many cited the funding issues and complexity of the document as the reason for the defeat. The student activities fee decreased concerns over organizational funding so this issue was dropped from the constitution when the students revisited the document to make it less complex. What Hampton proposed represents the product of these revisions and reflects the consensus reached by the GUSA Constitutional Review Council in 2001.

The new constitution provides the structure for a new student association that represents the whole person. The ideas are not new.

Students have always questioned whether four people from each class properly represent the student body. The student government has recognized the need to work with other student organizations, but systematic efforts at inclusion have failed under the current system. We believe this document, the result of so many discussions and debates, has the solutions we need.

John Huyette (COL ’05)

JAN. 31, 2005

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