February 8, 1999

Comptroller removes himself from SGA constitution revision process

Ash blames poor turnout for process cancellation

by Josh Renaud
staff assistant


Because of low attendance at his latest meeting on revising the Student Government Association constitution, comptroller Benjamin Ash has quit the project.

"I have decided to cancel the revising process," Ash said in an e-mail several days after the meeting. "I will bring it to the attention of the SGA at the next meeting that I am not going to continue to revise the constitution and that I am pulling my constitution from consideration."

At the Jan. 21 meeting of the SGA assembly, at which the meeting was announced, Ash told representatives of student organizations that he "expected them to come to this meeting."

Of 84 organizations, only five representatives showed up Tuesday for the gathering. Two of the five arrived late and didn't stay long because of scheduling conflicts.

Tuesday's meeting wasn't a first for Ash. In three previous meetings, he said, only one person attended.

"I'm used to this," he said.

Ash had been spearheading the effort to revise the SGA constitution since the last academic year, when it was discovered that a 1993 revision of the constitution had never been ratified. Ash said it was decided to rewrite the constitution rather than ratify the 1993 document. Ash did most of the rewriting himself in July of last year, he said.

"What I wanted to do with this was just give people a skeleton thing to work off of," Ash said. "If people [wanted] to add things, they [could] do it."

The meeting itself had some spirited discussion when Carrie Mowen, representing the University Program Board, said she thought Ash should have given incentives for student representatives to attend the meeting.

"I'm not doing [this] for bribery," Ash replied. "I don't want people to come because they feel they have to. I want people to come because they are members of the assembly."

Mowen agreed with Ash and added that "this campus is so apathetic and nobody wants to be involved, but if you could give them a little bit of a push and a little incentive, you would have people here."

Low attendance didn't stop Ash from going ahead and dissecting the constitution line by line. He read each section of his working version of the revised constitution, explaining where he made changes, taking questions, and seeking suggestions.

After the meeting was finished, though, Ash said he decided it wasn't worth the trouble anymore.

"I for one am finished with attempting to revise the constitution alone," he said in the e-mail, "and I hope that the SGA will find someone to take the reigns and revise the constitution."

"I always said that I am not going to go and do this by myself," he said. "This is not a process that should be done by one person."

This article was reprinted with permission from The Current.

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