The Associated Students of Boise State (ASBSU) will hold their formal constitutional convention meeting at 3 p.m. on Feb. 3 in the Special Events Center in the Student Union Building. Delegates will vote on a new constitution Feb. 10 at 2 p.m.
Proponents of changing the constitution say it will fix grammatical errors, simplify student government and distribute power vested in certain positions such as the ethics officer, who holds the final say on interpreting ASBSU code.
Throughout the process, dating back to last semester’s convention, members of the Funding Board and the Inclusive Excellence Student Council (IESC) have voiced concern over proposed constitutions diminishing their roles in student government.
Associate Vice President (AVP) of Academic Affairs and Convention Chairwoman Kalista Barkley told The Arbiter that delegates needed to present any new amendments or proposed constitutions at least 72 hours before the day of the convention.
Two constitution drafts were posted on ASBSU’s website on Feb. 1, one from Honors College Sen. Ethan LaHaug and the other from student-at-large delegate Fenix Dietz.
Delegates will give Barkley a report on where their constituents stand on the new constitution, which they will present on Feb. 3.
If approved by delegates, a proposed constitution will go to a branch vote before heading to university administration.
If approved by administration, the proposal will go to a student vote. Student voter turnout must exceed 500 students with more than half in favor, or the current constitution will remain in place.
Over the past two Fridays, ASBSU held two town halls which aimed to garner student input and meet concerns from university administration, who denied the previously passed constitution. One of those concerns was for ASBSU to increase the level of awareness with the student body about the convention process in an effort to reflect student interests.
ASBSU has a concern form regarding the constitution for students on their site. As of Feb. 1, ASBSU’s form has received 15 responses, with at least three relating to non-convention matters such as parking and high tuition costs, according to Barkley. The IESC has a survey form that garnered 146 responses as of Feb. 1, according to IESC Rep. Diego Tapia.
In addition to their survey, the IESC has held three of their own town halls since the start of the semester, with 18 non-IESC members joining the latest one. The IESC will hold one final town hall before the convention on Thursday Feb. 2 at 5 p.m. in the Student Equity Center.
About 12 non-ASBSU members attended the final ASBSU town hall. ASBSU President Adam Jones was unable to attend the meeting.
One student voiced support for changes that would designate a committee to decide the interpretation of ASBSU code, instead of the ethics officer having the final say.
In the prior ASBSU town hall, Sen. LaHaug claimed the previous ethics officer ignored a resolution passed in the Senate and Assembly requesting errors to be fixed in ASBSU code.
“The ethics officer decided to ‘interpret’ that the code did not require her to report to us and so she never produced a report or made any attempt to fix the errors we found,” LaHaug wrote to The Arbiter over email. “But what she really did was flat-out ignore our request.”
A primary concern among students and delegates in opposition to the convention was that the process had been rushed and didn’t allow students enough time to become involved.
“I would disagree. I don’t think it’s rushed, but you know, we’re entitled to our own different opinions,” Student body Vice President Ryan Bernard responded to a student at the town hall.
During the town hall, The Arbiter asked delegates how they are approaching student outreach.
Bernard said one of the ways he and Jones are doing student outreach is by meeting with fraternities, in an effort to speak to larger gatherings of students.
“I’m commending Ryan, but beyond just fraternities and sororities, I’m also working with Adam to meet with other student organizations that might be interested in this, like RHA because it’s not just Greek life,” LaHaug said. “For myself, I’m working with one of the student-at-large delegates to set up a tabling event, hopefully during the busiest time of the day.”
Associate Vice President of Student Organizational Affairs, Rylee Bray, said they were sending out surveys to their constituents to gather feedback on how they believed the branches were doing along with what ASBSU is doing as a body.
Tapia mentioned the above information regarding the IESC town hall and survey, as well as tabling.
Funding Board Officer Kline has advocated for no changes to be made to the current constitution.
Kline told The Arbiter over email that he didn’t believe the constitution is why ASBSU “has failed as a student government.” He said the legislative and executive branches have spent the last year “bickering over titles and structure,” while failing to pass any meaningful legislation.
“Those two branches have neglected to make one positive change or impact for students at Boise State, while they threaten to eliminate: 1) The funding board, which has granted over $100,000 to the students at BSU 2) The IESC, who has continued to protect and grow the influence of underserved students in our community,” Kline wrote.
Kline said he prefers for ASBSU to drop the convention and refocus what little time is left in the year to do what’s best for students, saying that he’s never seen a student government so incapable of affecting meaningful change in his four years in ASBSU.
All five branches of student government are represented by delegates, five of which are new to this round of voting. The Executive Council has three delegates; all other branches have two. Delegates are appointed by their chair.
Here’s a list of each branches chair and their delegates:
Executive Council: Adam Jones (Student Body President) | Delegates: Jones, Bernard and Barkley
Funding Board: Rylee Bray (AVP Student Organizational Affairs) | Delegates: Rylee Bray and Funding Board Officer Eric Kline
IESC: Melanie Figueroa Zavala (AVP Inclusive Excellence) | Delegates: Melanie Figueroa Zavala and IESC Rep. Diego Tapia,
Academic Senate: Kalista Barkley (AVP Academic Affairs) | Delegates: Honors College Sen. LaHaug and College of Business and Economics Sen. Carina Fettinger.
General Assembly: Ryan Bernard (Student Body Vice President) | Delegates: In-State Rep. Sebastian Griffin and Out-of-State Rep. Max Harris.
Students-at-large are appointed by Jones. Their delegates are Turning Point USA President Darby O’Connor and Fenix Deitz.