SU Council has passed a motion mandating the establishment of a constitutional review group for the Students’ Union constitution.
The motion, which was proposed by Sports Officer Brendan Lacey and seconded by SU President Paul Lynam, acknowledged “the integral nature of the constitution to the Students’ Union as well as the sensitive nature of a constitution and the need to keep the document up to date and relevant to the student body”.
It proposes that “the SU President convene a committee to hold a full and thorough constitutional review process over the next twelve months, which will include a review of the current document, seek suggested amendments and ultimately make recommendations to go forward to referendum for next year”.
Lynam said he seconded the motion “because it’s a good motion. It’s as simple as that…I think we could come back with a better constitution.”
Brendan Lacey told The University Observer that he proposed the motion because he has “a great respect for the constitution” coming from a law background, and also that “we are mandated to review it every four to five years”.
Lacey also spoke of the issues of constitutional amendments requiring a referendum of all students: “A number of motions are coming up to Exec and to Council on the idea of constitutional amendment, and a referendum costs a lot of money to the union.”
Lacey also expressed his belief that more students should be involved in the writing of the constitution.
Lynam spoke of the complicated process involved in the constitutional review process and that it would be his intention that the next SU President would utilise the constitutions of other universities, both in Ireland and the UK, to help with the writing of a new constitution.
He said: “If you have just UCD students or UCD class reps, you’re only going to get one experience, whereas if you get input from Students’ Unions in WIT, NUIG, Trinity and Sligo, you see what did work in their constitutions and what didn’t work for them, we can come back with a stronger constitution that looks at all the different things.”
The current constitution came under review four years ago. When asked if he felt it was very soon to be holding a constitutional review, Lynam responded: “Well you do see people putting in motions for constitutional amendments. I think if you look at the document as a whole and if you constantly have to keep chopping it, I think there should be a new document that students should be able to vote on it to keep it for five years. But there should be some clause that it shouldn’t run for five years after that.”
Lacey said that he believes in gathering a wide range of opinions would be beneficial but said that “The SU we have in UCD is really, really good. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel in terms of what we’re talking about here. But there’s no reason we can’t do better.”
Lynam expressed hope that the review process would be voted on “by the sabbatical elections in 2012, and that by the following year we’d have a constitution that’s fit for purpose in the Students’ Union”.