Entropy-the law saying things left to themselves fall apart- is a term rarely heard outside of physics, but apparently its laws even govern the government.
Because another Constitutional amendment, likely to be ratified by the students next week, will leave another discrepancy in SA’s governing documents. If uncorrected in this case, a junior vice president would be unable to succeed a resigning president because the qualifications for both positions are different-a student must have completed 90 hours or been in school three years to be president.
This is only the latest example of constitutional entropy-the document has tended toward disorder since 2001. Nearly every amendment to the Constitution or By-Laws has produced with it an inaccuracy or contradiction.
The “Big Shake-Up” of 2002-03 removed committees from under SA’s purview, yet the Constitution still contains guidelines in the event a committee chair resigns.
The hierarchy of class officer positions was abolished at the same time, leaving simply five class senators; however, the Constitution still gives a line of succession in the event a class president leaves office.
The By-Laws, which contain more of the day-to-day rules, as well as regulations governing elections and duties of executive officers, are in even worse shape.
Several By-Law amendments adopted last year have apparently been lost. Rather than the three or four amendments passed last spring, only one-an incomplete, inaccurate first draft of an amendment concerning meeting attendance and impeachment-has been added to the By-Laws.
Until those amendments are found, the By-Laws are out of date by listing the old system of class officers and requiring “two senators from the Graduate Class” when the Graduate Student Association was established five years ago.
The Rules of Order, in turn, neglects to list newly created positions and treats committees as if they still attended meetings regularly or had anything to do with SA.
Meanwhile, Congress has begun subverting its governing documents, by adding other “governing documents” to which the Constitution and By-Laws give no authority. A set of rules dictating how executive officers should present the budget, for example, should have been amended to the By-Laws early this semester.
The recent changes and additions to election rules also need to be amended to the By-Laws, which state “candidates must be in compliance with qualifications outlined in the Constitution and/or [B]y-[L]aws.” A literal interpretation would nullify all election rules not listed in the real By-Laws.
Such disorder did not happen at once-it happened in bits and pieces, as those who amended the Constitution did not obey its instructions to append those amendments at the end and failed to note if similar language was in the By-Laws or Rules of Order.
The “Big Shake-Up” also helped, shaking up SA’s Constitution into a mess of minor contradictions that give an impression of disorder. Such an impression is not befitting Congress or its governing documents.
Entropy is a reality we all must live with, but it is long past time for Congress to clean house.