ASBSU wraps up first day of constitutional convention

Taya Thornton | The Arbiter

The Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU) met at noon on Oct. 15 in the Student Involvement Center for their first day of a constitutional convention. 

The first day involved tense discussions over student body President Adam Jones’s proposal of dissolving the Inclusive Excellence Student Council (IESC) and the Student Funding Board as separate student body branches, integrating them into a new three-branch system modeled after the United States constitution. 

If approved by the delegation and Boise State President Marlene Tromp, the proposed change would place the Funding Board under the executive branch and merge the IESC into all three branches. The IESC would then have a cabinet position in the executive branch, seats in the general assembly and a seat on the new judicial branch.

There are 13 delegates for the convention, but the chair and two Funding Board delegates refrained from any debate.

Seven delegates argued in favor of the proposed change. The main opposition was represented by two IESC delegates and the Student Funding Board officer. Proponents of the change argued the proposal would make the IESC part of Boise State’s student government, instead of being their own separate body within the student government.

Two of the seven delegates, Boise State Turning Point USA President Darby O’Connor and School of Public Services Sen. Alina Tirado, said that as students of color, they would reach out to ASBSU before the IESC for any campus related issues they face, since they had not known about the group until recently. 

Racial and Ethnic Rep. Angelo Lopez told The Arbiter he supports the IESC’s goals of representing minority groups, saying that this proposal would be the best route in doing so. 

At one point, Jones said the IESC was an activist branch, citing prior comments from IESC delegate and officer Leo Parry, who said the group’s activist roots were important to its objective of creating a more representative and inclusive university. 

[The Associated Students of Boise State University gathered for the first day of their constitutional convention.]
Taya Thornton | The Arbiter

In response to claims of the IESC being partisan, Ethics Officer Anahita Zabihi Gilvan said that according to university policy, IESC officers cannot make political statements during working hours since they are employed by the school.

Parry was one of the more vocal opponents to the bill. 

“It’s not our world view. It’s how the world works. It’s how especially America was built on systems of racial injustice, on gender inequality. It’s a non-negotiable,” Parry said. “The IESC was built to be a judicial branch. This was our intention to be a system of checks and balances. Now we are being moved and split up into so many areas that were not even a branch.”

Chairwoman Kalista Barkley responded to Parry, saying, “While I respect what you’re saying, it is opinion though. It’s not fact,” to which observers bursted into an exaggerated laughter, prompting Jones to tell the room that if they cause disruption, they’d be asked to leave.

Then, Jones mistakenly called Charles Jones III of MLK Living Legacy “Chris,” to which Jones III yelled, “I’m Charles! Charles Lewis Jones the third!” Then, Jones told him it was great to meet him, but if he was going to cause a problem, he would be removed. 

Barkley told Jones III, “We’re trying to respect everyone in here, but as an audience member you need to respect us as well, and that kind of behavior is not going to be tolerated, okay? Can we respect each other?” to which Jones replied “Keep talking,” before leaving the room.

Honors College Sen. Ethan LaHaug then said that the fact America was built on these systems was undeniable. The part he raised issue with was whether those systems still persist and what role student government should play. He said that it’s not the job of student government to take an activist position, which he said the IESC does.

“If you read their code, the people who created it blazed their names into the code for eternity believing that their mission to advocate for minorities. They described themselves as progressive activists. I’m not saying in any way, shape or form that racism doesn’t exist or hasn’t existed,” LaHaug said.

Barkley echoed LaHaug’s last sentence, adding that was “exactly what she was saying” and “that in accordance to political affiliation where your opinions come from, it is opinion, it is ideology,” while also acknowledging that structural injustices continue to exist. 

The vast majority of the convention was back and forth over Jones’s proposal. In-State Assembly Rep. Sebastian Griffin made a point to suggest that the common parliamentary procedure, Robert’s Rules, be used going forward in an effort to add structure and direction to future meetings. 

At the end of the meeting before turning to public comment, the delegation agreed to create a shared document where everyone could comment on suggestions and amendments for the new proposed constitution. 

Students in the back had signs that read, “The IESC is going to stay,” and, “Training isn’t enough.”

Public testimonies varied, with a majority being supporters of the IESC.

Transfer Student Rep. Gabe Rodriguez started his comments with his identity of being white and Hispanic due to the topic of identity being a large point of discussion during the convention.

“I hold deep down in my heart that it’s not the division of identity that makes us unique, or what commonality we can find in the mess of today’s labels and past transgressions,” Rodriguez said. “If inclusivity is truly what they believe rather than laughing like juveniles at the chairs’ valid comments, join the process, abandon your activism and join governments.”

Former ASBSU senator and current IESC council member Jasmine Reyes talked about the power senate and assembly members hold, in her view, making it important for the student body government to work with IESC committees.

Another IESC member, Orion, voiced concern over the lack of ASBSU reciprocating the IESC’s effort to communicate, citing unresponsive email exchanges and only four ASBSU members ever coming to their meetings. 

One student voiced their disappointment with the meeting since they “pay a lot of money to go here,” while another student said there was “clearly a lot of tension in this room.” 

A former member of student government and founder of IESC named Grace Burgert suggested ASBSU delegates look to other universities to help shape the new constitution. Barkley said this past summer, she attended a conference of over 50 universities and was planning on taking this approach.

A founder of the IESC, Jaysia Pecsek-Dunn, offered to exchange her email with ASBSU delegates about the intentionality around the founding of IESC. 

Day two will take place Saturday, Oct. 22, since ASBSU has to follow a five-week timetable from the original resolution passing.

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