The 46th administration of the Associated Students of Colorado State University sang its swan song on Wednesday night by passing a final bill which would remove the clause in the ASCSU constitution that allows student groups to apply for senate seats in the student body.
Bill #4623 was the final piece of legislation passed by the government of outgoing ASCSU President Daniela Pineda Soracá before handing the leadership of the organization to incoming President Josh Silva and Vice President Elect Michael Wells.
The bill was presented to the senate floor three times. It was overwhelmingly approved with a vote of 27-0-1 and took immediate effect.
Bill #4623 sought to replace the petitioning process required by student groups seeking representation with the ability to write amendments to the ASCSU Constitution allowing for their inclusion in the student legislature. These amendments must then be ratified by a two-thirds majority vote from the Senate.
The process detailed by Bill #4623 is similar to how the Multi-Faith and Belief Council received their senate seats. Last January, ASCSU amended their constitution to include the council, thereby allowing religious representation in the student body without having to undergo the petitioning process.
Known as the Petition Clause, the original law came as part of the hotly debated Diversity Bill last spring, which resulted in the creation of senate seats for the Student Diversity Programs and Services offices and the Adult Learner and Veteran Services office.
The petitioning process, as it was originally introduced into the ASCSU Constitution, places the organization at a legal risk. The process required student groups to petition ASCSU and pass a two-thirds majority vote from the Senate. ASCSU could be sued for discrimination if a student group which fails the process falls under a protected class under the U.S. Constitution.
While ASCSU has not been subject to any such suit, University lawyers advised the organization earlier last year to either clarify the process or gut it altogether, as its inclusion in the ASCSU Constitution places the organization at a legal blind spot if it remains.
Various attempts to eliminate the Petition Clause persisted throughout the fall 2016 semester. However, these attempts were defeated because ASCSU could not legally define what constituted a “historically under-represented” group, nor could they agree on alternatives to the Petition Clause. ASCSU was also unable to fully clarify how the petitioning process actually worked.
Pineda Soracá’s farewell address to the 46th Senate acknowledged the senators who gained their seats through the Diversity Bill, thanking them for their efforts.
“We had to pick up a lot of pieces in the past year,” Pineda Soracá said. “There was definitely a lot of contention into your (senate seats), but I think we’re getting to a much better place on campus to continue these constructive conversations.”
Collegian news reporter Gabriel Go can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @rgabrielgo.