Constitution Review

Project Manager

Tee Zhuo

Description

The Constitution Review Committee is tasked to carry out the sunset period* mandated by the Constitution. This involves revising and re-ratifying the whole Constitution. To ensure the process is representative, the Government set up a select committee made of 15 members. After a lengthy process, a new constitution was drafted and ratified by the student body.

Status

Complete

Government Representatives

Public Representatives

  • Adila Sayyed

  • Anandita Sabherwal

  • Avery Simmons

  • Isabel Perucho

  • Matthew Ware

  • Ng Qi Siang

  • Sara Rotenberg

  • Subhas Nair

  • Swarnima Sircar

  • Tamara Burgos

Yale-NUS Constitution Feedback Form

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Duties

  1. Produce a new constitution by November 6th (Friday) 2015 23:59.
  2. Open a Public Comment period between November 6 (Friday) and November 20th (Friday) 23:59, where students can submit amendments to the constitution on an online platform. The convention will, with the help of the student government, plan numerous public comment sessions between these two dates.
  3. Maintain open and well-minuted meeting minutes for all official meetings of the convention.
  4. Meet no less than once per week except for week 7 and recess week between the date of its appointment and November 6th.
  5. Involve the public in the process starting from its appointment to ratification.
  6. Submit a final version of the constitution, after voting on every public amendment, by November 23, Monday 23:59.
  7. Work with the Student Government to conduct a ratification vote from 25th November to 26th November. 24th November is reserved for public debate over ratification.
  8. Disband 26th November 2015 at 23:59, unless extenuating circumstances allow for the Student Government to extend the convention’s duration.

Other Details

  1. With the exception of the Devil’s Advocate, all members of the committee must commit to not running/standing at the next election.
  2. The Devil’s Advocate is exempt from (1) given that they only vote to break a tie. They have no personal views, and are supposed to question all suggestions and thus on principle opposed to every position.
  3. School administration and members of faculty to be barred from meetings and not allowed to vote or influence the convention in any way, unless invited by the committee (decision to be passed by ⅔ majority vote).
  4. Open-viewing and participation for any student for any meeting.
  5. A process will be created for submission and consideration of every idea/suggestion with regard to the constitution.
  6. Other members of the incumbent Government, and the dissolved ESC will be consulted where needed.

DRAFTING GUIDELINES

Language and style

  1. The Constitution will be written in British English, in line with the College’s main language of use, and it’s location in Singapore.
  2. Use ​”will” and ​”shall” properly and avoid using ​”may”​ (when in doubt, replace shall in the sentence with “has a duty to” to check if it sounds alright. For example – inanimate objects often don’t really “have a duty to” do much).
  3. Each article should have a Purpose. Article > Section > Clause > Sub-clause – each of these should support that Purpose.
  4. Use words succinctly and clearly, but do not do so at the expense of precision or accuracy of meaning. Language should be formal (See 1 under “Considerations”).
  5. Define important/key terms, and add those definitions as suggestions in the tentative “Definitions” article.

Considerations when drafting

  1. Compare counterpart articles in the current constitution and the constitutions of other schools for style, wording, purpose etc.
  2. Be as specific as possible when drafting (e.g. when should we hold General Assemblies? How? For what purpose? How many people to attend? Is it mandatory? etc.), unless the spirit of the clause calls for generality.
  3. Make sure the clause is watertight – imagine the clause will meet with significant disapproval, and you need to word it so that you can defend it.
  4. Think about the clause in the context of the entire constitution – are there contradictions? Does another article help to check elements of this one?
  5. See point 3 under “Style” – if anything in the Constitution has no purpose, it should not exist.
  6. Measure each clause in terms of the trade-off between control and agency of government actions; the balance should reflect what is best in students’ interest.
  7. The Constitution is a document that the government will need to act on. Think about the main powers and duties of the government discussed in our meetings, the main people they will need to interact with, and draft articles that support those needs.
  8. Think about the practical implementation of the article in the context of the College and Singapore laws.

​Procedure

  1. Each article has been delegated to a group of three committee members.
  2. At least one person in the group to think impersonally of objections to every clause phrased.
  3. Group to discuss before settling on the exact wording of each clause/sub-clause.
  4. Review and consider amendments suggested by the student body relevant to the article.
  5. After drafting, link to be sent to rest of committee for comments, and group to make revisions based on those comments.
  6. At the next meeting, each article will be reviewed in meeting. Disagreements will be voted upon; small changes (e.g. grammar, wording that does not affect the fundamental meaning of an article) can be made immediately, but big changes (e.g. changes that affect the piratical effect of an article) can be sent back to the drafters.
  7. After entire constitution is drafted, all members of committee to do a final review of the constitution with an aim to copy-edit and spot any contradictions or significant problems that may result in its interpretation.
  8. Public comment period, final changes, and ratification to follow.
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