Elon’s Student Government Association released a newly revised constitution for the student body to vote for or against on Feb. 16. Since March of 2023 the SGA has been working on a new constitution and on Feb. 1 the Senate approved it.

On Friday, Feb. 2, Jon Dooley, vice president of student life, sent an email out to all undergraduate students encouraging students to read the new constitution and vote on PhoenixConnect. Dooley — in his email — urges everyone to take part in the democratic process on Elon’s campus.

In the 2023 SGA election, 1,825 votes were cast, which was 29.9% of Elon students. In the class of the 2027 election in fall of 2023, 464 students voted which is 27.5% of the freshman class. In the year prior the class of 2026 elections had 179 voters which was 11% of the class. 

A group of freshmen said they didn’t know anything about the new constitution. 

Freshman Taehlyn Martin said, “why would I read the SGA constitution?”

Freshman Emily Perrone asked, “why are they changing it?” 

Major constitutional changes

The judicial branch has been changed to a review board. Chloe Higgins, speaker of the senate for SGA said this is due to a lack of interest in judicial branch roles. 

“We only had a chief justice and no one wanted to be associate justices who were running the proceedings,” Higgins said.

Judicial branches’ role within SGA as stated in the current constitution,2022-23, is to “serve as a fair and impartial component.” This was to “ensure that SGA and all of its members abide by the Constitution, Bylaws, Judicial Manual and Code of Ethics.”

According to the new constitution, the review board’s role is the “impartial component” of SGA, just like the judicial branch was. The review board will also serve the same purpose as the judicial branch. 

The board will oversee any SGA ethical infractions, elections and handle finance board appeals. 

Higgins said the review board will be composed of the new role of executive vice president and the class presidents. The speaker of the senate will be a non-voting member who will present the facts of each case to the board. 

The next big change is the addition of the “executive vice president” position. The vice president will add a member to the executive branch, making the total positions five. They will be responsible for organizing SGA events and appointing any vacant positions. The executive vice president would also take over the president’s role if they were unable to fulfill their duties. 

The final big change is the addition of “initiative senators.”  In the constitution, the role of these senators is to “represent the priorities of the Student Government Association as determined by the SGA Bylaws.”

Higgins said they do not know what those priorities are yet. 

The initiative senators were previously in cabinet positions, but the cabinet has been disbanded. Higgins said that these positions were not utilized frequently before. 

“To utilize the people in these positions more than they were in the cabinet and to increase communication amongst these initiatives and the Senate is increased,” Higgins said.

An additional visual change is the amount of pages. The current constitution is 23 pages long and the new one is 14. 

“The goal of the Constitution, or mission of the Constitution, is that it’s a skeleton document,” Higgins said.

Higgins said the executives decided to move a lot of content from the current constitution to the SGA bylaws which will be voted on by the senate later in the month. 

How does this affect students?

Higgins said she encourages students to vote on the new constitution.

“What we do is try to improve the student experience,” Higgins said. “This governing document would really help us with furthering the student experience.” 

Higgins said this will be most prevalent by the addition of initiative senators who were created in hopes of being more representative of things the student body cares about. However, the specific initiatives will not be voted on by the student body.

Higgins also said this new constitution reflects SGA’s move away from programming, as other campus organizations focus on programming.

“That’s just not really the mission of SGA anymore,” Higgins said. 

Higgins said their goal is to improve the student experience, this is through their amendments which often implement new programs. Including the addition of resources like providing free menstrual products in campus bathrooms.

Bylaws will not be voted on by the student body; however, some of these changes may affect the students. 

“The main ones that would probably affect students are the review board bylaws,” Higgins said.

The review board will interact with student organizations who request funding appeals for how much money SGA allocated to them. 

Higgins said SGA meetings are open to the student body and the date that the senate will vote on the new bylaws will be advertised online.

Higgins urges everyone to engage with the document.

“I would say that it does apply to everyone. It’s based on representation of students,” Higgins said. “I think it also increases representation of student voices, so that’s another important thing about it.”

Voting Information

The vote on Feb. 16 will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on PhoenixConnect and will be a simple in or not in favor vote in the case of the entire new constitution. If passed the new constitution will go into effect in March for the new election cycle. 

Higgins said SGA plans to make a social media post and have another email sent out prior to voting.

The new constitution can be found on SGA’s website. Higgins encourages anyone with questions to reach out to her or any executive members of SGA.