On Oct. 24, the Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU) delegates passed a new constitution. Notably, the new document would dissolve the Inclusive Excellence Student Council (IESC) and Funding Board as separate branches, integrating them into a new three-branch system.
Before going to students for a vote, the new constitution needs approval from the Dean of Students and the President of the University. Neither granted the approval.
On Oct. 28, Dr. Chris Wuthrich, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, emailed the ASBSU executive council, senate and assembly, laying out several requirements that must be met before Wuthrich and university president Marlene Tromp can sign off on a new constitution.
The email, shared with The Arbiter by the Office of the Dean of Students, said that a team of administrators met on Wednesday, Oct. 26, to discuss the proposed constitution. They also heard from a number of students concerned about the process and how it was not sufficiently organized or robust enough to reflect their interests.
The email also pointed to concerns over a lack of preparation and education regarding the rationale for changes and proposed new language.
“Our intention is to not stifle creativity nor infringe on speech,” Wuthrich said in the email. “However, the ASBSU Constitution must comport with university governance procedure and reflect upon Boise State and our students as an effective organization.”
Wuthrich pointed to three primary concerns raised in their meeting: language and structure, financial processes and current constitutional requirements.
Regarding language and structure, Wuthrich said the proposed titles for new officers, specifically the attorney general, are “overly legalistic” and “not representative of language generally accessible by students” in addition to citing “significant typographical or grammatical errors.”
On financial processes, Wuthrich wrote that the section describing the senate as the replacement for the Student Funding Board “requires significant discussion and planning with Student Involvement Staff and Student Life Finance” in order to make sure any new implementation will not be disruptive or increase costs.
“Also, the State Board of Education is keenly aware of each institution’s process for student fees allocation and closely scrutinizes changes affecting that process,” Wuthrich wrote.
Concerning current constitutional requirements, Wuthrich said that any changes or removal to ASBSU legislation or code requires that the current ASBSU constitution and code be followed.
The email went on to say that the university supports changes to the ASBSU Constitution. However, “change must be managed and communicated effectively,” and that going forward, Student Affairs staff would provide support to the constitution change process.
The email said the expectation was that ASBSU hold recorded constitutional change workshops facilitated by Student Involvement staff, with each delegate receiving advising and consultation by a staff member.
The final two expectations listed were that interim meetings between ASBSU executives, subsection leaders and advisers be held periodically throughout the process. Additionally, Wuthrich encouraged an amplification of student voice and intergovernmental dialogue, urging the importance of student involvement in major ASBSU decisions.
“We suggest that ASBSU’s timeline for completing the constitution review be extended to Spring and that any voting with the student body be aligned with general elections,” Wuthrich wrote. “Any changes to the constitution, prior to a student vote, will need to be approved by me, the Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and the President.”
Kalista Barkley, associate vice president of Academic Affairs and constitutional convention chairwoman, spoke with The Arbiter about the next steps ASBSU will take to address the administration’s concerns.
“…The feedback we got from the university and the administration is that we need to work on our transparency and our level of awareness with the student body about what we’re doing,” Barkley said.
Barkley explained that planned informal meetings between delegates and students will be held before the delegates meet. The meeting will be structured to encourage conversation, allow people to discuss how they feel and become informed on the process.
Barkley said delegates will need to present any amendments at least 72 hours before the last day of the convention. Delegates will give Barkley a report on where their constituents stand on the new constitution, which they will present at the final meeting.
“I expect that each delegate does talk to as many students as they can so we know this is truly how their constituents feel,” Barkley told The Arbiter.
After they feel students have been informed to a reasonable extent, one more convention day will take place prior to a day designated to voting. The meeting will be held in a debate format open to the public, where delegates will go over pros and cons of the new constitution as they see them.
No vote will take place at the last convention meeting, in an effort to give delegates a week to decompress before making their final decision.
“There will be a voting meeting, but it’s going to be after everyone feels healthy,” Barkley said. “I felt like in the past meetings that having a vote and just the structure of it was honestly toxic, and it wasn’t doing what ASBSU claims to do.”
Another change set for this spring semester will be the delegates representing the IESC. Associate Vice President of Inclusive Excellence Melanie Figueroa Zavala and IESC Representative Diego Tapia will be two of 13 delegates, according to former delegate and IESC officer Amelia Jobe.
A constitutional convention town hall will be held on Jan. 20 at the Student Involvement and Leadership Center.