The Undergraduate Student Government altered its bylaws Tuesday night to allow some senate resolutions to remain effective after the end of that senate’s term, rather than dying at the end of each term.
The amendment to the USG bylaws, which passed 11-0-1, will make resolutions effective for the duration of two USG senate terms. Each of the 12 senators can extend the life of one resolution during his or her term.
Resolutions allow USG to formally communicate the undergraduate student body’s stance on a particular issue to the administration, said USG Vice President Logan Lachman, a former Greek senator. In past years, effective resolutions have spurred improvements such as encouraging the wider implementation of USC Wireless Plus around campus.
“USG is the common link between the administration and students,” Lachman said. “When a resolution is passed stating that this is what the students want, the administration really takes that into consideration.”
Each senator is now permitted to sponsor one resolution with an extended life span per term.
The amendment’s author, residential senator Jordan Vieira, said the extension would be applicable for ongoing issues, such as extending campus center hours.
“Change is a slow process,” Vieira said. “Items that are really beneficial take the longest time to come to fruition.”
Because the amendment passes legislation on to a future senate, resolutions that take advantage of the extension will require passage by a three-fourths majority, rather than the simple majority most resolutions require. An incoming senate can also reject any extended resolutions with a two-thirds majority vote during the first four weeks of its new term.
Prior to the new rule, the maximum life span of a USG resolution was one term, unless the outgoing senate underwent an informal process in which it communicated to the incoming senate a desire for the resolution to remain in effect for an additional term.
“What I tried to do was take something that was an informal process and make it a formal dialogue mandated in the structure of the senate,” Vieira said.
Lachman said there have been several instances in past years where USG resolutions would have been implemented more quickly and efficiently had they been carried on to future senates.
Four years ago, USG passed a resolution advocating the establishment of a school holiday on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Though the change was made last January, Lachman said the proposal did not come to fruition as quickly as it could have because it was not extended during the next term.
Resolutions with an extended life-span will need to address topics that involve most students, Lachman said.
“They definitely have to be more general in order for them to be sustainable for years after and they have to affect a majority of students, not just one specific constituency,” Lachman said.
Vieira said he expects the amendment will encourage senators to craft more productive and meaningful resolutions because they will only be able to pass one piece of legislation with a life-extension.
Vieira also said he hopes the amendment creates a new medium for dialogue between incoming and outgoing USG administrations.
“If they have really great ideas that they don’t achieve in office, these resolutions can provide a channel to create longer-lasting effects,” he said.
Speaker Pro Tempore and Residential Senator Vinnie Prasad and Residential Senator Marissa Roy also sponsored the amendment.