by Israel Boafo Bansah

Tonight, we’ve been called for an ordinary JCR meeting and on the Order Paper, one significant agendum is the approval of the proposed amendment of the Constitution of this great Hall of Ours.
Whilst it is a great move to amend Constitutions to review the laws that govern a particular society to deal with new challenges as well as cope with changing times and new trends, such moves must not be seen as seeking to discriminate against a particular sect of people or to alienate them.

I would want to add that I have prepared and submitted a four paged paper in a form of memoranda which I delivered to the Presiding Member to consider and make those inputs to which he has not agreed to and offered his reasons. This will be an abridged version and anyone who so wish to peruse that document can contact me via the number at the bottom of this letter and I’d happily share it – that document contains the full argument.
And also before I continue, I’d want to issue this caveat that I’m not a lawyer or a law student, but I’m only seeking to use common sense to argue my point.
The first inconsistency is the issue of the election of JCR executive officers. Under the Constitution, the current one to which an amendment has been proposed, it provides in Article 20 Clause 1 that “A member of the JCR shall be eligible to stand for election into any executive office if he is left with one year to complete his course of study.”
The proposed amendment also provides in article 17 clause 1 & 2 that “a member of the JCR shall be eligible to stand for election into any executive office if he is left with one year to complete his course of study” and provides the caveat that “… the person must have spent at least a year as a legal resident of Commonwealth Hall.”
But this will be illegal in the sense that the Constitution of the SRC to which our Constitution is inferior to, also provides for in article 30 Clause (1a) that “… except that a provision requiring a student to be in at least his third year in this University shall not disqualify such a person from contesting for any office under this article… ” (Emphasis Mine)

Hence the Constitution of our Hall shall be seeking to override the supremacy of the SRC constitution if it limits eligibility to run for an executive office to being in level 300 as Is implicit in the Constitution (both the current and proposed amendment). The SRC Constitution again provides in article 2 clause ‘a’ that “This Constitution shall be the Supreme Constitution of all Students, clubs, associations or unions in the University of Ghana and any other Constitution found to be inconsistent with any provision of this Constitution shall, to the extent of that inconsistency, be null and void.” (Emphasis Mine)
Hence the inconsistency inherent in our Constitution as compared to a superior Constitution, I’d suggest that we rather amend ours to toe the line of the SRC. And if I’m permitted, I’d suggest that we do an insertion – the insertion which will be ‘at least’. This will make the wording of Article 17 (of the proposed amendment) become “a member of the JCR shall be eligible to stand for election into any executive office if he is left with ‘at least’ one year to complete his course of study.” (Inclusion Boldened and Italicised)
This way, our Constitution shall be on the same path as that of the SRC because the qualification of being in level 300 shall not be used to disqualify any prospective candidate. And by way of a case study, the Judicial Board of Akuffo Hall (A Hall we are in the same rank with by virtue of both being halls of residence) ruled in favour of one Smith Dumenyor, a level 200 student who sought to run for the Office of the Vice President of the JCR of his Hall just this Academic year (last semester to be more precise).
And by paraphrasing the learned Judges (whose full judgement I’m pursuing and shall share when I get it) stated that indeed the Constitution of the SRC is superior to that of Akuafo Hall and hence allowed him run for the Office – an election he won eventually. It is noteworthy that the ruling was given by a court presided over by the Chief Justice of the SRC Judicial Board who also doubles as the Head of the Akuafo Hall Judicial Board.
Now to the matter of the election of Block Lords which is now being limited to only level 300s and in the case no level 300 contest, then the preceding years can run. It is clear that a new mischief has been created which should not be the case because we amend Constitutions to cure existing mischiefs not create new ones.
The Constitution in force does not prescribe any level for the qualification to run for that office, indeed there is no mention of a class in that segment of the Constitution and so I’m wondering why there is now the need to classify whoever wishes to run for those particular offices. The Constitution provides in article 10 clause ‘ii’ that “notwithstanding article 10(i), every block shall elect two representatives to be known as Block Lords who shall represent the block in the House of Lords.”
That’s basically it, there’s no need to be in a particular level to run and hence I cannot fathom the reason why the proposed amendment seek to classify the qualification in article 8 clause 2(b) “The representatives from each Block to the House of Lords shall be a level 300 student who has spent at least a year in Commonwealth Hall.”
The argument for this being that level 200s who contest and win Block Lords election only do so to use it a springboard to ascend to higher offices and I’m wondering when it became a crime to aspire for higher heights. Indeed those arguing that way may want to revisit Abraham Maslow’s Theory of Needs and they will perfectly understand.
Hence I propose that we revert to the immediate to the existing Constitution and not Carry through with the proposed amendment with respect to this particular issue.
And so fellow vandals, tonight, we shall be expected to vote in acceptance of this proposed amendment and when it’s time I shall stand in against these two articles and I know that VANDALS – true lovers of democracy will support this common sense as we seek to create a constitution that is fair to all groups of people regardless of their class.
Indeed if it must be done, it must be Done Well.
Truth Stands.
Your Fellow True Blooded Vandal,
Kwaku Asante

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