By Emily Zoda
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CSI’s newly elected Student Government President Rana Mohammad and Vice President Blerim Cukovic have announced plans to improve the 2015-16 Student Government, despite their delayed start to the academic year.
Mohammad and Cukovic plan to take on issues such as the transportation fee and internal conflicts that led to abuses of power by previous SG officials.
In the elections this May, former members of SG wrote a new constitution for students to vote on. The constitution did not pass because the required 10 percent of students did not vote in the elections, which were ruled null and void by CSI President William J. Fritz.
Mohammad and Cukovic may not see the fruits of their labor, but are set on creating that foundation for the constitution.
“I might not be here to see that pass, because the constitution takes time,” said Mohammad in an interview with The Banner. “Our guess is it might take two years.”
A major issue of the current SG constitution was that a majority was needed to easily change policies such as the stipends members receive, which run upwards of $4,000, according to Mohammad and Cukovic. They also want to start writing up a new constitution to clarify vague, technical language and patch up loopholes in policy changes.
Because of the previous elections being thrown out, SG was unable to take their seats and discuss budgeting for clubs and some publications. The momentum of the Campus Activities Board general interest meeting on October 1 was especially lacking because no definite budget was decided.
“We will try our best to accommodate clubs first of all,” said Mohammad. “I think they are the entire part of our college and they need to be on board with our constitution.”
A policy change that Cukovic plans to advocate for is the fees students are charged as they drop or add classes to their schedule. After the start of each semester when students drop a course, they are charged a fee instead of given a proper timeframe to try a class. Cukovic says students should be given a grace period to test out classes, rather than be charged for a class they didn’t take.
“We have a high potential to do some great things,” said Cukovic, a junior. “But that time has been cut short.”
Students have been outraged about the $40 transportation fee which both the President and VP expressed as unfair to commuters and drivers alike.
In the previous SG, anecdotes from several former members about a hostile culture within the organization spread. The Banner previously reported on heated debates about SG’s intentions to absorb CAB as well as funding to send members on a trip to Ireland.
Issues also arose when Fritz tossed election results because of campaigners caught cheating, but kept the referendums.
This lead to Cukovic lashing out at the president during a faculty and student body meeting with Fritz on September 17. Though the fee is already in place, they plan starting a petition to reduce the cost.
“It’s not that we’re not necessarily against the transportation fee, whether it’s right or wrong is up to the student body,” said Cukovic. “It’s the fact that the process, without a doubt, was improper.”
The president also wants his governing body to feel responsible with the decisions they vote on, so he will create a committee with senators and publication board members to vote on a series of matters.
“Whatever happened in the past has passed,” said Mohammad. “We are in student government to help the students.”