By: Daniel Melool  | 

Proposed Amendments to Revamp Wilf Constitution

Editor’s Note: The author of this piece is a member of the Wilf Standing Committee on Amendments. 

The Wilf General Assembly (GA) recently approved six amendments to the Wilf Student Constitution that will be voted on by the male student body in the Wilf general election. The approval comes after students were able to propose their own amendments at the constitutional amendments convention that was held on April 7. The Commentator was provided with the text of the proposed amendments from the Standing Committee on Amendments. To ensure that students have a clear understanding of each amendment before they go to the polls, The Commentator has provided a summary of each amendment.  

The first amendment contains the most changes of any amendment. Some of these include formally reinstating the position of Yeshiva Student Union (YSU) Vice President of Class Affairs and allowing Juniors to hold the position. The language in the current constitution is unclear about the standing of the Vice President of Class Affairs, as it is not listed as an official position but is still given a description due to an inconsistency in the passage of an amendment last year. The YSU Vice President of Clubs would also no longer be available to juniors as students running for the position would be required to be a senior. The Amendments Committee felt that if the Vice President of Clubs is next in line to succeed the YSU President, it is appropriate to require him to be a senior, since the president must be a senior. The amendment will also require the YSU President to be eligible to serve in the GA. This seeks to clarify the issue that arose from the contested presidency earlier this semester. Further clarifying the issue, the amendment will include a clause that requires the Vice President of Clubs to resign his current position if that position conflicts with the eligibility requirements to sit on the GA.     

Another restriction would be added for eligibility to serve in the GA. The amendment would bar club heads, presidents, co-presidents and members of a club’s executive board from sitting on the GA. The addition of an article outlining the roles and responsibilities of the Student Life Committee would also be included in the Constitution, as per the amendment. The Senior Co-Chair of the committee is a member of the GA, thus the amendments committee felt it was best to add an article that outlines the role of the committee, which is currently not the case. 

This amendment would also eliminate the requirement for candidates to garner signatures in order to appear on the ballot. Instead, the Canvassing Committee would be allowed to create its own by-laws regarding ballot qualifications. This change comes after an amendment to lower the signature threshold was denied by the Wilf Student Court over the Passover break.     

Some of the more minor changes include changing the name of all Secretary/Treasurer positions to just Treasurer and removing the position of Sergeant-at-Arms. Another minor change includes the restructuring of the articles of the Constitution. For example, all student councils would have their own article instead of containing every council's rules in one large article as is the current structure of the Constitution. 

If passed, the Katz Undergraduate School would have its own representative as outlined in the second amendment. The representative would be part of YSU, similar to the class representatives, and must be a full-time student for at least two semesters. Only students in the Katz School would be able to vote for the representative who will be elected during the spring election.  

The third amendment would give students in the Makor College Experience a representative to be voted on only by students in Makor. It should be noted that Makor is officially a separate program from Yeshiva University, but Makor students do pay student activities fees. The candidate would be nominated by the director of the program, currently Dr. Stephen Glicksman, who would then submit the candidate to the Canvassing Committee. Unlike candidates from other councils, the representative from Makor may not run as a write-in candidate.  

The next amendment, if passed, would require the student councils to release their respective budgets. During the last week of each semester, each council would be required to release a budget from the previous semester that includes the amount the council had at the beginning and end of the semester. The amendment would also require the GA to release a more detailed record of club events that were requested and approved within the last week of each semester, the amount of funding requested by each club and the amount that was approved. 

As per the fifth amendment, the General Assembly would be required to vote to approve or reject clubs petitions within one week after the petitioning period ends.

The final amendment would include a non-discrimination policy similar to that in the Beren Constitution. The policy would prohibit the Wilf student councils from discriminating against students based on many factors, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, nationality and sexual orientation. 

One possible effect of this amendment’s ratification could be the status of the YU Pride Alliance. Earlier this semester, the Pride Alliance filed a motion in the Beren Constitutional Council arguing that Stern College for Women Student Council (SCWSC) President Aleeza Katz (SCW ‘20) discriminated against the club by abstaining on a vote to approve the Alliance’s club status; this, they argued, violated the Beren Constitution’s non-discrimination policy. Ultimately, the court refused to hear the case on the grounds that the Pride Alliance had filed a complaint against YU with the New York City Commission on Human Rights . It is currently unclear if a similar motion will be filed in the Wilf Student Court if the amendment is passed.     

Originally, the committee decided to have one big amendment that included many structural changes and a separate amendment for each position being added. The non-discrimination policy, budget policy and the deadline to approve clubs were first proposed at the Constitutional Convention, and only approved afterword. Thus, they each received their own amendment instead of being included in a single, larger amendment.  

The proposed amendments aim to clarify some confusing points in the current constitution. For example, the new requirement for a member of the GA to resign from another position that conflicts with the eligibility to serve on the GA will hopefully avoid another contested presidency in the future. Removal of all mentions of the Executive Council and Student Senate, archaic and defunct bodies of student government, are changes that are a long time coming. The formal reinstatement of the Vice President of Class Affairs clarifies its role in the student council. The quest to clarify the uncertainties in the Constitution continues every year, and the latest amendments are a great next step to ensure that the constitution serves as a document that properly governs the student body.   

Photo Caption: The Wilf Constitution
Photo Credit: The Commentator