Recent controversies indicate defective ASOC constitution

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The recent controversies stemming from the Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) President Chris Week’s impeachment and Honor Board’s rejection of the Diversity and Equity Board (DEB) funding component make one thing clear: The ASOC constitution and bylaws are in desperate need of revision.

For the ASOC president to be impeached, he must have either violated the House Rules or been placed on disciplinary or academic probation. Because he was not on probation, the constitutionality of Chris Weeks’ impeachments hangs on whether or not he indeed violated the House Rules. The problem is, there is disagreement over the very existence of the House Rules.

According to Weeks, in a complaint he filed with Honor Board April 14, the reference to the House Rules in the bylaws is obsolete because it is a holdover from an outdated version of the constitution. Senate claims that a set of community standards took the place of these rules, as discussed in their Sept. 22 meeting.

The foundation of this debate not only rests on whether or not Weeks indeed violated the community standards, but whether or not Senate could cite these violations as justification for impeachment. The contention is a result of ambiguities in the Senate bylaws and ASOC constitution.

This is not the first time that ambiguities in ASOC’s regulating documents have led to controversy. Debate over Honor Board’s power to approve student body fee increases has rocked campus over the past several months. While the constitution gives Honor Board explicit authority to approve student body fees, it does not provide any guidelines by which the board can make those decisions. As a result, the board must work within a large gray area.

If Senate is ruled responsible in violating the constitution by impeaching Weeks, funding for student clubs and student services will be uncertain. The source of funding for the Diversity and Equity Board also remains up in the air, compromising a much-needed initiative by focusing on crippling, idle banter.

Instead of allowing the student body to be torn apart by arguments over the inadequate and inconsistent documents that govern our student body, let us use the chaos created by Weeks’ impeachment and the DEB controversy to motivate the creation of more thorough and clear institutional guidelines. The student body should not be held hostage because of inherently flawed documents and indifference to both solving the root of the problem and the long-term functionality of Oxy student government.

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