Staff Editorial: LUCC Constitutional Amendment aims at equity and inclusivity

LUCC, along with students and staff, just ratified one of the more important amendments to the council’s constitution in some time. About four constitutional amendments were ratified in the past ten years. Most of these amendments instituted minor changes, aside from one to elect LUCC representatives by class rather than residential district. “This amendment is a pretty major one and is probably significant in that same kind of way,” Lauderdale said. “We are adding a whole new section and a whole new set of guiding principles.”’

The process of creating and passing a constitutional amendment might be unfamiliar to many students. Unlike the LUCC by-laws — which only need two-thirds majority of the council members’ votes, provided they had been submitted in writing at the previous meeting — an amendment to the Constitution requires a majority of the council, along with ratification by both the faculty and student body by two-thirds majority in each voting group. Senior Naomi Oster, current LUCC Vice-President, started writing the amendment in Fall 2017, and then it went through debate in both a committee and council for half the term. Before the full voting referendum, LUCC needed to hold an open session to assess the reaction and opinions from faculty and students on campus.

The new version of the preamble includes phrases such as “collective mission to foster a respectful environment,” “equitable and inclusive treatment for all groups” and “promote opportunities for student leadership and involvement.” This new preamble, as Lauderdale stated, is intended to help guide the committees proceedings and actions. Using words like “equity” instead of “equality”, for example, implies an added criterion while deliberating finance allocations for student organizations. Instead of simply basing such decisions on the organizations’ needs and their proposed amounts, LUCC will also assess whether certain organizations should be prioritized over others in terms of funding on the basis of their ideals and mission statements.

The preamble also encourages the addition of other operative clauses which would directly impact the way student organizations are run. Last year, a request from LUCC’s general council for Judicial Board to take action against a potential online harassment incident was dismissed on the grounds that the accusation did not apply to any of the current clauses of the social code. The new amendment will help take action against previously non-punishable offenses by broadening how we define disruptive behavior.

LUCC is also planning to legislatively mandate all groups related to diversity to have discussion training sessions with Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Kimberly Barrett as a prerequisite for LUCC (re-)recognition. Similarly, training sessions with the Volunteer and Community Service Center (VCSC) are being planned to ensure that all on or off campus volunteering happens in an ethical. Both these steps will be stemming from the new preambulatory clause recognizing Lawrence’s “collective mission to foster a respectful environment.”

In many ways, this addition to the preambulatory clauses addresses some of the concerns brought up in last spring’s final general council widely attended by the Lawrence Community. This change is the first major step towards ensuring better moderation during discourse and effective action against disruptive behavior not only for the current campus climate but also for years to come.