USG adds restrictions to positions
The Undergraduate Student Government Senate approved changes to its constitution that would place experience requirements on students who want to run for executive positions and committee chairs in the organization.
The amendment requires all candidates for USG president and vice president have at least two semesters of experience as a senator. It also requires candidates for comptroller to have served one semester as a senator or a Funding Board Committee member. Appointees for committee chairs would also be required to have one semester of committee experience.
USG does not currently have any eligibility requirements to run for its offices, and the changes would even have kept some members out of their current posts.
Claire Price, the current USG comptroller, for example, would not have been allowed to take her post. Price was not involved in USG at all prior to her spring 2013 bid for comptroller. She ran on the platform of better communicating the organization's funding policies, which she was frustrated with navigating as the CFO of the dressage team.
But Price said she supported the amendment.
"As much as I've loved my experience, I really wouldn't wish that on anyone to go through that steep of a learning curve," Price said. "It's an incredible amount of time and work. I think this is not so much a restriction as a helpful aid."
USG Vice President Kara Googins said the requirements would also help the organization's retention rate.
"Year in and year out, most of the senators are new because they don't see a way to continue to rise up in the organization," she said. "This is a way to ensure that candidates are qualified and there's a place to go in this organization."
But Justin Clark, the junior class senator, said he felt the restrictions were an undue burden.
"I transferred to this campus as a junior. Maybe I would have had ambitions to run for president and I would have been restricted from that," Clark said. "I don't think it's a good thing to have inexperienced candidates, but I think the elections process is what addresses that. The most qualified should win."
Senator Carlyle Bethel, a school of business senator, also opposed the measure.
"Who are we to determine who can be in this organization?" he asked the senators during the debate Wednesday night. "If I was a member of the student body, and I sat in the gallery and watched every senate, who are we to say that person can't serve the student body because they didn't hold a formal position?"
The constitutional changes were proposed by Senator Justin Broccolo. He recently attended a student leaders meeting at Texas A&M University where he learned placing eligibility requirements on student body presidential hopefuls is a common practice.
"It adds an incentive and desire to get involved," Broccolo said. "When you're a committee member, you get to know the organization and you know more about what's required" before taking a higher post.
Senate Speaker Shiv Gandhi clarified that the experience does not have to take place in consecutive semesters, and a senator could - for example - serve for a semester, study abroad and then be lawfully appointed as a committee chair.
The organization approved a number of changes to its core document earlier in the semester that will reorganize how senate seats are apportioned. All changes to the USG constitution must receive approval from the UConn Board of Trustees and pass a campus-wide vote before taking effect. Thus, none of the amendments discussed on Wednesday will affect the current election cycle.
The student body will vote on these constitutional amendments during the spring elections cycle, which will be held from March 5 to March 10. USG will hold its candidate debates for USG president and vice president tonight in the Student Union's north lobby at 6 p.m.
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