Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
July 3, 2022

This page has opined extensively on the general irrelevance of the Student Council and its chronic inability to achieve anything of genuine import to the student body. Climate change, Sudanese divestment, the loss of credit for internships - these are just a few of the many issues that have come to predominate the social and academic environments on campus without so much of a whimper from the Council.

And in a rare moment of sincerity, several members of the Council seem to have acknowledged this sad reality and committed themselves to changing it. Six of those members, led by Council President Scott Bierbryer '08 and Senator for Legislation Evan Lazerowitz '10, are drafting a new Student Council constitution, in the hope that fundamentally restructuring the way the Council works will make it a more powerful voice for student interests.

We agree that the Council is in desperate need of fundamental change, and it is possible that a new constitution will inject the Council with the energy it has previously lacked. A school-wide vote might also be a healthy way of reengaging the student body in the business of its representative government. Undergraduates have been chronically disconnected from the student council, which cannot lobby for student interests effectively without a mandate from its constituents.

The bulk of these changes seem purely cosmetic. For one, the new constitution would change the name of the Council to the Student Government Association. It would also reshuffle a lot of positions and rename a lot of titles, changes that hardly seem necessary for achieving the Council's broader policy objectives.

Supporters of the new constitution also intend to restructure the way the Student Activities Committee works - a potentially treacherous policy change considering the sprawling financial power of the SAC. This page has often quibbled with the way the SAC doles out funding for student groups, and it may very well be necessary to restructure the way that process works, but the Council should not do so lightly.

Student groups currently elect liaisons to lobby for funding on their behalf, and while the system as it is exists is by no means perfect, it is rooted in years of tradition and the belief that the students know best how to spend their money. We urge the drafters of the new constitution to take this into consideration as they work to restructure the SAC, and we would firmly oppose any attempt to strip student groups of their power in the process.

For the most part, the proposed changes seem aimed at making the Council a more organized and effective voice for student interests. It would eliminate class councils - which currently spend most of their time and money on event planning - and establish senate committees to take up more substantive policy initiatives.

This is the right direction for the Council, and for that reason, we support the new constitution. Many of the changes may very well be cosmetic, but if sweeping structural change is what the Council needs to reorient itself and regain its sense of purpose, then so be it. As long as the process does not drag on, needlessly preoccupying the Council - which already spends so little of its time on matters of genuine importance - we believe the outcome will be a step in the right direction.

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