Student wants changes to Engineering Council constitution

Proposed amendment to better include transfer students


A transfer student has proposed changes to a Student Association policy that he said denies undergraduates who come to UB from other schools the ability to serve as Engineering Council coordinator.

Omran Albarazanchi, a junior chemical engineering major, said current Student Association election rules discriminate against transfer students. He is advocating for an amendment that is up for an SA vote Monday at 7 p.m.

The Engineering Council constitution says only students currently on a council-affiliated engineering club e-board can be elected coordinator. The coordinator is responsible for convening club council meetings and coordinating all activities within their council, according to SA’s constitution. Coordinators are a member of the SA senate, as well.

Albarazanchi is currently not a member of an engineering council e-board, so he can not become coordinator under the current constitution.

Albarazanchi said the policy prevents students transferring to UB as juniors from serving on the council. They can’t serve on a club e-board until their senior year unless someone on the e-board steps down, according to Albarazanchi.

Albarazanchi transferred last fall from Monroe Community College, where he served as Engineering Leadership Council president. Albarazanchi was one of 438 transfer students enrolled in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences last semester.

The amendment faces an uphill battle, Albarazanchi said, with perhaps as many as 33 percent of the current council in opposition to the proposal.

“I hope it gets a majority vote, but then I wouldn’t know why one third of the [council] would be so against it,” Albarazanchi said. “Would they tell their members that transfer students don’t have the same rights as a regular student? We all go to UB, so I just can’t see how they would tell [that] to their own members –– especially engineers. There are so many transfer students.”

Tanahiry Escamilla, the SA Engineering Council coordinator, said the constitution does not discriminate against students.

“Any undergraduate student is welcome to be a part of any undergraduate club, including engineering clubs,” Escamilla said. “In the future, I would like to see the council bring up that if an e-board member of their club thinks a club member is capable of being coordinator, that could be an option.”

Escamilla said the amendment is worded in a way that includes transfer students and excludes freshmen who want to run for coordinator.

Engineering Council is not the only council in SA that requires students to be e-board members. International Council and Hobby Council prioritize e-board experience in elections, but elections are opened up when no e-board members run for coordinator. In SA general e-board elections, there are no e-board requirements.

Jacob Brown, SA elections and credentials coordinator, said each council is responsible for voting on and amending its own constitution. Brown said policies like those in the Engineering Council constitution are to ensure experience on the council level.

On April 9, the council held an emergency meeting and approved a motion allowing Albarazanchi to run. Escamilla, Brown, SA vice president Ben Harper and SA president Leslie Veloz then met with Albarazanchi to discuss how the amendment couldn’t pass in its current state.

Escamilla said there is a lot to her position, from working with the School of Engineering and arranging Engineering Week. Escamilla's role also requires knowing who to reach out to and what has worked for clubs in the past.

“The coordinator is supposed to be the one who helps clubs, especially the ones who are elected for next year. A lot of the council is in their first year being elected to this position. So that’s also a concern,” Escamilla said. “From what I’ve seen, we just go based on SA experience, dealing with engineering clubs and students.”

Brown said the proposed amendment needs to be revised in order to pass. Brown said the proposed amendment does not specify what article in the engineering council constitution it will replace. He said he wants to work with Albarazanchi to open up elections.

“I think it’s a great idea to allow more people to run, to get more diversity instead of an exclusive group,” Brown said. “As for this amendment, it’d be tough to know where it’d fit into the constitution.”

The amendment needs a two-thirds vote from the council and approval from the SA office to pass. If the amendment passes, it has to be tabled again for at least a week before it can be finalized, according to Brown.

Escamilla said the pro-staff and administration within the engineering school have been updated on the amendment proposal. She said the school is confident engineering clubs will make a reasonable decision on Monday.

Benjamin Blanchet is the senior features editor and can be reached at benjamin.blanchet@ubspectrum.com and @BenjaminUBSpec