USG votes to consider constitutional amendment on succession plan

The amendment sets up a plan in the event a USG president or vice president resigns or is ineligible to serve.


Cecilia Shearon

Regan Smock, president of Undergraduate Student Government, addresses Senators during the Undergraduate Student Government meeting at the Iowa Memorial Union on Sept. 7 2021.

Ryan Hansen, News Reporter

In the wake of the resignation of the former University of Iowa Undergraduate Student Government vice president, USG is working on a line of succession plan to prevent confusion in future resignations.

USG voted to consider a constitutional amendment that would create a plan for the new president and vice president in the event of a resignation on Tuesday.

The proposed amendment comes six weeks after USG President Regan Smock announced the resignation of her vice president, José Muñiz Jr.

Former Speaker of the Senate Jack Lauer was elevated to the role of interim vice president three weeks ago.

Sen. Benton Renaud drafted the bill. He said the process of approving a constitutional amendment in USG involves the proposition of the amendment, debate over the amendment, and a vote on whether or not to consider it at a future meeting.

Renaud said the amendment would provide clear guidelines for future administrations and would alleviate much of the uncertainty USG faced following Muñiz Jr’s resignation.

“We took a lot of what was in the previous governing documents and just kind of changed it and included some language so that it’s actually written and it doesn’t have to be interpreted by the internal affairs committee,” Renaud said.

The amendment suggests applying the process USG is currently using to determine the vice president, which multiple senators referred to as the interim system. In the event of a resignation from the vice president, the speaker of the senate would immediately move up to that role in an interim role.

It also deals with the resignation of the president and the resignation of both the president and vice president at the same time.

The amendment was open only for debate on Tuesday, with potential changes becoming a point of discussion at the next meeting. Some senators still voiced opposition to some very specific aspects in the bill.

Sen. Logan Williams voiced concerns over language in the bill that leaves the determination of a timeline open for internal affairs to determine, rather than providing a specific amount of time.

“I think it’s very important that we provide a clear and concise timeline.” Williams said. He added that presidents may be able to exploit the lack of a clear-cut timeline.

“In the [amendment], the decisions would be made by the Internal Affairs Committee,” Renaud replied to Williams’ point. “The President and Vice President would not have any say in when the timeline is being set, so that way it is kind of a third-party decision.”

Sen. Sam Stucky voiced her support for the amendment because it codifies important and specific language about potential lines of succession.

“I think because, currently, we really don’t have anything in our constitution [regarding succession], this is a really important thing that we have the opportunity to create,” Stucky said. “I agree that it obviously is going to require further discussion.”

38 senators voted unanimously in favor of considering the legislation at the next USG meeting, which will be on Nov. 9.

President Smock said in an interview with DI that the current edition of the constitution was not very specific and left a lot open for interpretation regarding plans for succession.

“I think what internal affairs has talked about is there are a lot of holes in our constitution where it’s like, ‘That hasn’t happened,’” Smock said. “But just because it hasn’t happened doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be some protocol. We leaned heavily on internal [affairs] but hopefully this will guide the process if it happens again.”

The DI previously reported that the Internal Affairs Committee gave Smock until winter break to appoint a new vice president. Smock voiced her approval with the decision to create the amendment and said she hopes it works.

“Truthfully, I hope that it’s something no other president has to experience because it’s obviously not ideal,” Smock said. “But having the stuff written down [creates] peace of mind.”