Student votes to hold more weight

Students at Northern Kentucky University will have more responsibility than ever when voting for leadership in next month’s Student Government Association elections.

In addition to electing five executive board members, 15 senators and two judicial council justices in the April 14 and 15 SGA elections, students will also vote for a new SGA constitution.

“It’s so much simpler to do it on April 14 and 15 because we’re already holding another election,” said Sen. Michael Vaughan, chair of the senate elections committee.

Students can vote online from the NKU Web site ( Links to the homepage will be e-mailed to all students on April 13. The link will also be available on the SGA Web site and through the Norse News Network (N3).

Vaughan said he hopes that online voting and increased awareness of the election will lead more students to vote in the election than in the past. He plans to post candidates’ biographies and copies of both the old and proposed constitutions on a special election Web site.

He said it seemed “trivial” to hold a separate election for the constitution, which was approved by the senate Feb. 18.

The vote, originally scheduled for early March, was postponed by an appeal of the senate’s vote filed with the SGA judicial council by Andy Hixson, vice president for public relations. The council denied the appeal Feb. 26, deciding that the senate’s vote on the constitution did follow correct procedures set forth in its current constitution.

The new constitution has been a subject of controversy and has undergone multiple revisions since it was introduced to the senate in January.

The original document proposed sole SGA control over all student organization funding, including that of student media, the Activities Programming Board and the Residential Housing Association. It also proposed the creation of an SGA-led Student Funding Panel to regulate funds for student organizations, and the consolidation of the executive board from five to three members.

Sen. Mike Tobergta, author of the first draft of the constitution, worked with SGA officials and advisers on two revisions before it was presented to the senate for a vote. The third draft eliminated student media due to issues of legal and ethical conflict, and provided for the appointment of international and minority students to the funding panel. The senate rejected the document Feb. 2. Critics said the proposed constitution would have given SGA disproportionate control over other student organizations.

Hixson presented an alternate constitution, and the two documents were combined after consulting with student leaders.

The revised version, approved by the senate Feb. 18 and up for a vote by students April 14 and 15 includes the following:

* provides for “shared governance,” a policy of increased collaboration between SGA and other student organizations

* would establish an SGA-led Student Fee Allocation Board to distribute student fee money to student organizations. The board would be composed of the SGA executive vice president, finance committee chair, vice president for student organizations, APB executive director. The university president would choose one faculty and one staff member to sit on the board. The SGA president would appoint five students to the board: one non-traditional student, one minority student, one international student and two at-large members.

* would allow the board to control funding for SGA, APB, the Student Organization Council, the Legacy Fund and 75 percent of the Programming and Activities Grant

* would require the APB executive director and RHA president to serve as senators and be elected by senate

* would restructure the executive board to include the positions of president, executive vice president and vice president for student organizations instead of the current president, executive vice president, vice president for administrative affairs, vice president for public relations, and vice president for academic and student affairs

* would create the finance, ethics and student rights’ committees

* would allow the finance committee to “review, at its pleasure, any University financial affairs of interest to the students”