Thursday, April 18, 2024

Assembly proposes amendments to SUSG Constitution

By Genno Gabriel Rabaya | November 30, 2023

Fifteen representatives of the 33rd Silliman University Student Government (SUSG) Student Assembly proposed amendments to the SUSG Constitution to adopt “more timely” policies.

Among the proponents were Karla Concepcion Fontelo, Junior High School representative; Joshua Miguel Amante, School of Public Affairs and Governance representative; Frances Gabrielle Aldaba; and Sabrina Ysabelle Ledesma, College of Arts and Sciences representatives.

As “the highest law of order of the Silliman student body,” the proponents said the constitution entails the basic laws and principles that the SUSG abides by and determines the powers it holds.

Amendments were initially discussed during the 7th regular session held on Nov. 19 at the Science Complex.

Out of 56 representatives in the SUSG Student Assembly, a fourth were proponents of the amendments following the requisites set by the current version of the constitution.

The amendments to the constitution are currently in their deliberation phase, to be followed by an invitation of constituents for further discussions in the next Student Assembly sessions.

The SUSG Constitution was last amended and ratified in 2021.

Should the Student Assembly approve the amendments, the student body shall decide whether or not to ratify the amended constitution in a plebiscite. If the majority approves of the amendments, they shall take effect in the next school year.

Rationale 

According to Rep. Aldaba, changes post-COVID-19 pandemic must be considered in the constitution.

In making the constitution “foolproof” for students’ needs, Rep. Fontelo added that provisions were made “easily understandable.”

Rep. Amante also noted the current constitution’s lack of “laid down” terms on “accountability” for public officers.

“It’s to help the subsequent administrations in being able to implement or abide by the constitution in terms of appointments and the charters of the executive committee,” he said.

On foreseen issues with the implementation of amendments, Rep. Aldaba stated that changes in the SUSG might concern constituents, particularly on the “separation of powers.”

“Because back then, […] I think they tried to limit it to two positions [between] the [executive committees] and the Assembly. There [was] a lot of backlash concerning that,” she explained.

To address such instances, Rep. Ledesma added that they would reiterate the rationale and highlight the importance of each amendment. 

Key amendments

Some provisions within the amendments cover the “democratizing” of positions, adding articles on “accountability,” and increased student engagement.

Rep. Aldaba said the provision that Assembly representatives should not hold other executive or presidential positions, including governor and vice-governor positions in high school and college councils, is to prevent the “monopolizing” of certain offices.

She said, “We prove all the time that the SUSG is a training ground for leadership. But is it a training ground if it’s limited to only certain members?”

On the accountability of SUSG officials, Rep. Amante said that the amendment will be “timeless” because it “[tackles] head-on what happens if a representative or SUSG official does not hold up to the standard that they’re supposed to.”

In particular, one of the amendments expands the scope of the Committee on Impeachment to members of the Cabinet as well as college and high school councils.

Rep. Aldaba also added that the technicalities for accountability in the previous constitution were “very vague.”

“The accountability portion of that [amendment] gives us a benchmark of how [not just] the representatives, but the entire public officials of the SUSG should act,” she said.

The Student Assembly will continue discussing all proposed amendments in the 8th regular session on Dec. 3.

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UNEDITED ver. 

To adopt more “timely” policies, representatives of the 33rd Silliman University Student Government (SUSG) 33rd Student Assembly plan to establish amendments to the SUSG constitution.

The proponents of the amendments intend to provide more appropriate “mechanisms” within the SUSG.

Frances Gabrielle Aldaba, College of Arts and Sciences representative, stated that changes that came with the shift after the COVID-19 pandemic must be considered in the constitution.

She added that the amendments are also for students’ better understanding and said, “We have to consider the fact that not everyone knows everything.”

Karla Concepcion Fontelo, Junior High School representative, also said that in making the constitution “foolproof” for students’ needs, the provisions were made to be “easily understandable.”

Joshua Miguel Amante, School of Public Affairs and Governance representative, said that the current constitution also lacked “accountability” for public officers.

“It’s to also help the subsequent administrations in being able to implement or abide by the constitution in terms of appointments and the charters of the executive committee,” he said.

On foreseen issues with the implementation of the amendments, Rep. Aldaba stated that the changes in the SUSG might be a concern for constituents, particularly on the “separation of powers.”

“Because back then, […]  I think they tried to limit it to two positions, [between] the [Executive Committee] and the assembly. There [was] a lot of backlash concerning that,” she said.

Sabrina Ysabelle Ledesma, College of Arts and Sciences representative, also added in dealing with possible “backlash” that might arise from the changes, the proponents made the provisions with a certain rationale.

She said, “We, as the proponents, would like to reiterate the rationale and sort of highlight the importance of each single amendment and why it is important to change the constitution itself.”

Provisions within the amendments

Some provisions within the amendment cover the “democratizing” of positions, adding articles on “accountability”, and increased student engagement.

Rep. Aldaba said the provision that student assembly representatives should not be members of the cabinet and presidents of their organizations was made to prevent the “monopolizing” of certain positions.

She said, “We prove all the time that the Siliman University student government is a training ground for leadership. But is it a training ground if it’s limited to only certain members?”

On the accountability of SUSG officials, Rep. Amante said that this amendment will be “timeless” because it “[tackles] head-on what happens if a representative or SUSG official does not hold up to the standard that they’re supposed to.”

Grylle Adrian Malala, College of Mass Communication representative, also added that the provision of including faculty and staff in certain petitions toward other faculty helps with the safety of students.

Rep. Fontelo also confirmed the amendment to establish a Judicial Advisory Council in the SUSG as patterned to the Philippine government.

Transcriptions

[tWS] SUSG Constitution Amendment Interview Transcriptions

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