By Zainab Iqbal
Published: October 18th, 2017
Plans are in the works to combine two Brooklyn College student governments together as one; a merger that may be finalized in just a couple of months and implemented next year.
According to the president of the College of Liberal Arts and Science (CLAS), Nissim Said, the schools that used to exist within Brooklyn College do not exist anymore.
“We don’t have a College of Liberal Arts and Science anymore,” Said said. “And SGS stands for School of General Studies, and we don’t have a School of General Studies.”
Two years ago, the student government charter was revoked. CLAS, SGS, and the Academic Club Association (ACA) met with City University of New York (CUNY) officials to discuss the future. At the meeting, they were told to come up with a new system.
“CUNY told us we have an opportunity in front of us; we can create any government we want,” Said said. “So we sat there and tried to formulate what the best government was.”
One of the biggest changes that would come with a new government would be the elections. Currently, the elections follow the NY state system. For example, students elect assembly members. Once the assembly members are elected, they decide within themselves what position they want to pursue, such as running for academic affairs. Said believes this is an unfair policy, and wants to change it.
“What we created in the restructuring was, you don’t run for assembly and then run for budget and finance chair, you run straight for budget and finance,” Said said. “So the person who won would be motivated to do it. If you’re not really interested, don’t commit to this.”
The restructuring Said is referring to is the new government plan. An entire document that was written and completed last year discusses the restructuring of the new government—essentially, how it would operate. The student governments soon realized there was a problem. In order to initiate the new structure, it had to be passed by a referendum (a general public vote).
“So if we passed it by referendum in the spring, how would you do the election? Would you run a contingency election based on the restructuring? So if the restructuring passes, this is who you should vote for, and if it doesn’t pass this is who’s running for this year,” Said said. “It would’ve been really messy and complicated.”
One of the biggest concerns of a possible merger is that nighttime and part-time students may not be represented. But Said feels otherwise.
“I don’t think I need to be a nighttime student to represent nighttime students. I don’t need to be a part-time student to represent part-time students. I don’t to be a woman to understand a woman’s concerns,” Said said.
He believes having a nighttime or part-time government won’t be efficient. He agued that many part-time students have jobs, and may not want to or have the time to serve.
“So if you’re going to create a system that is set up to fail, then you’re really doing a disservice,” he said. “So I felt it was better to just do it full-time.”
There were rumors going around that SGS was not happy with a possible merger. The Excelsior reached out to SGS President Mendy Eidelman for comment on the situation. But he declined, saying the merger was still in its infancy stage.
“SGS has been working with us for the past two years,” Said said. “I think they’re just a lot of push and pull.”
Said believes that in order to make sure every student’s voice is heard, the system needs to be correctly written. “I can say I want to represent nighttime and part-time students but who says in five to ten years the system that we put into place doesn’t do that anymore. So, we need to have everything in writing and built a really good foundation,” Said said.
Currently, the student governments are back on the drawing board to create a system that works for everyone. A lot of what was being proposed in the first draft would change the BC student fee. An idea being proposed is to have the student fee be based on the amount of credits being taken by a student, as opposed to a flat fee.
Said hopes that in three to four months, a final document can be presented. Then, a referendum can be put to a vote during the election.
“It would pass with contingency of being implemented the following year. So let’s say next June would be the final CLAS year; that E-Board and Assembly would really have to transition and help the new people.”
But the question that remains is why. According to Said, it’s for the sake of all students.
“We saw this as an opportunity,” Said said. “We’re just trying to take on a bigger role for helping students. We’re trying to do more. We’re just trying to be better. “