With its recent ratification of a new constitution, the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) is reorganizing into a student government that more closely resembles its dismantled predecessor, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG).
This fall, UPUA risked dissolution when it approved a resolution that would allow members to pass constitutional changes without the approval of a board of administrators -- known as the external board of five -- that, under the current constitution, is technically required to approve all constitutional changes.
The external body of five will be dismantled when the constitution comes into full effect after its March 26 elections. Members of the Association of Big Ten Students (ABTS) cited its elimination as one of the major factors in their decision to include UPUA in its biannual conference this past weekend.
The new constitution also features major structural changes.
UPUA's current structure resembles a presidential cabinet, with members essentially providing only recommendations to administrators, UPUA Academic Affairs Chairman Ralph Crivello said.
The new constitution will divide UPUA into three parts: an executive board, an elected assembly and a board of arbitration, which will mediate disputes and interpret the new constitution. Several new seats, including two for freshman representatives and one for a Schreyer Honors College representative, will be added to the assembly after the March elections.
USG, which was replaced as the university's recognized student government in 2006, also featured a three-part governing system that resembled the three branches of the federal government.
While UPUA's new structure is perhaps the constitution's most sweeping change, the entire document is "completely, radically different," Crivello said.
Inherent problems in UPUA's original structure prompted the change, Crivello said.
"[UPUA] was designed behind the philosophy that there would never be any disputes between the student government and the administration," he said. "You can't put 40 people in a room and expect them to sing 'Kumbaya,' and you can't expect administrators to listen to them."
The new constitution will also eliminate many appointed seats in the assembly in favor of more elected seats, Crivello said.
Jay Chamberlin, a former UPUA president who graduated in December, said the new constitution continues to reflect the organization's original goals.
"I think that the people who wrote the original constitution had the intention to create a student advocacy group that was able to communicate effectively with students and administrators," he said. "And I think that's the same goal with the new constitution. We've just learned some things."