New SA Supreme Court chief justice begins reforms
The Student Association Supreme Court attempts to increase transparency, effectiveness, and fairness by creating a new sample constitution for student groups to follow.
Anahi Tapia, Chief Justice to the SA Supreme court announced during Wednesday’s SA meeting that the Supreme Court had met with seven student groups that day as well as denied thirteen student group constitutions.
“There was no standard that was being followed from the years before me,” Tapia Said. “I’ve never spoken to the person who came before me. I don’t know how the other chief justices have been doing it. There’s no handbook for me to really follow so I just went in and I just went straight off of the byelaws.”
Not every constitution had broken the bylaws severely, Tapia Said. Some of them were minor: having four officers when the bylaws require five; voting restrictions; and e-board eligibility.
While some student groups can make more serious mistakes such as holding interviews for e-board positions rather than holding elections.
On these more serious mistakes student groups can make Tapia said: “I think it’s super restrictive and super prohibited and unfair—frankly. And, it doesn’t matter necessarily whether I think it’s unfair what matters ultimately is it’s against the bylaws.”
To fix this, Tapia drafted a new constitution that—according to her—is compliant with the bylaws and will serve as the base for student groups moving forward.
“It’s just the bylaws,” Tapia Said, “That’s what I was going off of, making sure everyone is held to the same standard.”
According to Tapia, clubs before were basing their constitutions off of previous constitutions, such as clubs that are similar like a women’s empowerment club looking to another women’s empowerment clubs constitution; to previous iterations of the same club.
Tapia wants this new sample constitution to be an authority so that student groups all adhere to the same rules.
The new constitution is online and student groups can find it on the SA Supreme Court website.
To make the process of creating a student constitution, Tapia wants to make a checklist that is non-negotiable, so students know what exactly the Supreme Court wants in each student group constitution.
“If they [student groups] have any questions my office hours are always open and I’m more than happy to meet with people, because at the end of the day, once those constitutions leave my hands I really don’t know if those boards are following their own constitutions. So it’s good to meet with these people face to face.”
Each student group must have a constitution. The constitution ensures all student groups adhere to the same rules—the SA byelaws.
The Supreme Court gives each student group a sample constitution, from there the group writes their own.
Miguelina Pierre-louis, the Director for Student Group Affairs for SA explained that SA gives student groups as a guideline. Student groups give Pierre-Louis their constitution where she then gives it to the Supreme Court for approval.
Pierre-Louis stressed the importance of having a coherent constitution, “if they didn’t have one, it would be chaos, and so then everybody would make their own decisions when it came to dues, when it came to elections, when it came to their purpose, their mission.”