USS to Examine Constitution
At 9 p.m. on April 20, one student sat alone in a conference room at 2 W. 13 St. when the University Student Senate meeting was scheduled to begin. After half an hour had passed, a total of five of the USS’s 14 senators had arrived. At the next meeting on April 26, only four senators were present.
Plagued by poor attendance from senators all year, The New School’s student senate is planning to amend its constitution to establish attendance guidelines, voting procedures and interim elections, with the goal of avoiding near-vacant meetings.
“The fact that I don’t know how many people should be in this room should tell you [how poor attendance has been this year],” said Anna-Karin Loureiro, USS co-chair, at the April 20 meeting. “There is a core of eight people who are always here in general, but that shouldn’t be.”
Loureiro said the USS plans to create a “tenure offer” in the constitution to solve the attendance issue. Senators absent more than three times would be replaced by an alternate — their runner-up in the election — after a review. An interim voting procedure will also be added to delegate votes when senators are missing.
At present, Parsons, Lang, and The New School for General Studies are each short one student senator. Parsons senator Maggie Martin never attended a meeting, Lang senator and USS co-chair Corey Mullee left due to academic standing, and NSGS senator and co-chair Shannon Lumpkin graduated after the fall semester.
Five senators from Parsons, Lang, NSGS, and The New School for Social Research have also been suspended for missing three consecutive meetings. They would be reinstated, however, if they “subsequently attend a meeting,” according to the USS constitution. The suspended senators include Parsons representative Jake Atchoo and Fonzie Cuaycong, NSGS senator Barbara DeLaleu, NSSR senator Minju Base, and Lang representative Cordelia Eddy. Alex Cline, a Lang senator, was suspended, but reinstated after attending the April 20 meeting.
The amendments aim to motivate students to stay involved, as well as allow the USS to be productive — with senators missing, it is difficult for the USS to function.
“We are at a point where our qualified voter total is so low that the number of votes needed for certain procedural things has not been calculated,” Hurley said.
The USS is also amending their constitution to solve problems on the executive board — they are short two out of a possible three chairs.
“I’ve been the only co-chair for more than a semester,” Loureiro said.
The senators themselves elect the executive board — three co-chairs, a secretary, and a treasurer — in an internal vote. Special elections are held at the beginning of the semester in the case of a vacancy on the board. No special elections were held when Mullee and Lumpkin left the USS, as they left after the start of this semester. The amendment would allow the USS to hold special elections mid-semester, if needed.
The USS plans to vote on the amendments on May 10.