Understanding Student Senate's Proposed Constitutional Amendments
Updated: Nov 17, 2021
What are Constitutional Amendments?
Constitutional amendments are proposed changes to the Constitution of the Student Body at Florida State University. They are required to go through standards of public advertising, review, and approval prior to being implemented. For a constitutional amendment that has been approved by the Student Senate to take effect, the student body is required to vote on it, typically during the Fall or Spring Student Government election. Out of the total voting students, 2/3 of them need to vote in favor of the amendment for it to pass. Over the last year, five constitutional amendments have been proposed and approved by the Student Senate at Florida State University. The full text of these amendments are embedded below.
What are the five Constitutional Amendments that have been approved by the Student Senate?
Constitutional Amendment One: This amendment was proposed to increase the petition threshold for recall elections in response to increased enrollment at FSU. For campus-wide elected positions, including the Student Body President, the threshold to petition a recall election will be changed from 1,500 signatures to either 5% of all students at FSU or 1,500 signatures, whichever is greater. For campus-elected positions based on number of credit hours completed or area of study, this amendment changes the threshold for a petition from either 50 signatures or 20% of affiliated students, whichever is greater, to 50 signatures or 10% of affiliated students, whichever is greater. While student political parties have petitioned the FSU Supreme Court for a recall election before, to the best of Torchlight’s knowledge, the recall process outlined in the Constitution has not been used to call for a recall in recent memory.
Constitutional Amendment Two: This amendment was proposed to correct perceived redundancy in the description of the Student Body Treasurer in the Constitution. This amendment makes no changes to the functions, powers, and responsibilities of the Student Body Treasurer.
Constitutional Amendment Four: This amendment would create a Constitutional Review Commission for the purposes of reviewing and recommending changes to the Constitution for the student body to approve. Under this amendment, the Constitutional Review Commission would meet every three years and consist of ten members. Three members would be appointed by the Student Body President, three by the Chief Justice of the Student Supreme Court, and three by the Student Senate President. The Student Senate President would serve as the tenth member and chair of the commission. Currently, without this amendment, the two ways for the student body to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment are to have the amendment proposed and approved by the Student Senate, or to have the proposed amendment added to the ballot via a petition with at least 1,500 signatures.
Constitutional Amendment Seven: The purpose of this amendment is to provide specific standards for fulfilling a vacancy for the Chief Justice of the Student Supreme Court. Currently, the Constitution specifies that the Student Body President nominates a replacement within six weeks of a vacancy. Under this amendment, if the Student Senate does not approve a Chief Justice candidate forwarded by the Student Body President, the Student Body President would be required to submit a new candidate within one week. In the case of the removal or impeachment of a Chief Justice, the Student Body President would be required to immediately reopen and advertise applications, in addition to appointing an Associate Justice to serve as temporary Chief Justice. Finally, in the case of a Chief Justice vacating the office by graduating, the Student Body President would be required to open applications twelve weeks prior to the graduation of the Chief Justice and present a nominee to the Student Senate six weeks prior to the Chief Justice’s graduation.
Constitutional Amendment Ten: The purpose of this amendment is “to increase the Congress of Graduate Students’ ability to allocate Activities and Services Fees on behalf of graduate students at Florida State University.” Activities and Services Fees are paid by every student at Florida State, at a rate of $12.86 per credit hour. In practice, this amendment will increase the percentage of Activities and Services fees (A&S fees) paid by graduate students that are allocated by the Congress of Graduate Students (COGS) from 30% of the total to 50%. COGS is responsible for funding services including the FSU Childcare Center, various graduate student associations, the Law School Council, and the Medical School Council. The other 70% of total graduate student A&S fees are allocated under the discretion of the Student Senate. The Student Senate is responsible for funding services that are utilized by the entire student body, including the Union, Campus Recreation, the Elections Office, and the Medical Response Unit. Under this amendment COGS will be able to allocate 50% of the total amount of graduate student A&S fees, with the other 50% going to the Student Senate. Effectively, this will give graduate students more autonomy over how their individual A&S fees are spent, while decreasing the amount of money available to the Student Senate to allocate on other projects.
What is the status of the Constitutional Amendments?
For a constitutional amendment to be enacted, it needs to be voted on by the student body and be approved by a 2/3 vote. Constitutional amendments one, two, and six were originally proposed on January 13, 2021 and were passed by the Student Senate on January 27, 2021. They were later signed by then Student Body President, Jonathan J. Levin, the Director of the Student Governance and Advocacy, and the Vice President of Student Affairs. Since the amendments were not reviewed by the Supreme Court or published in a campus newspaper at least one week before the Spring 2021 Election, they were not included on that ballot. Constitutional amendment seven was passed on March 10, 2021 and has yet to have any other public review or advertisement. Constitutional amendment ten was unanimously approved by the Student Senate on September 8, 202l. The amendment was also reviewed by the Supreme Court in an advisory opinion on September 24, 2021. It has currently not been publicized whether any of the constitutional amendments will be on the upcoming Fall 2021 Election ballot.
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