By Kennedy Wangari
The Jomo Kenyatta University Students Association (JKUSA) officially launched the reviewed students’ association constitution on Thursday 11th January 2018 at the Main Campus, Assembly Hall in a well -attended event. In attendance was Mr. Patrick Kegami, the Principal Administrator, Dean of Students’ Office, representing the University Administration, Student Council from the Main Campus and the 12 Satellite Campuses as well as the students at large.
The build up to the promulgation of the 2017 JKUSA Constitution was preceded by a schedule of activities which kicked off in January 2017 with the amendment of section 41 of the Principal Act in the National Constitution that took effect on 16th December 2016 after being signed into law by the President. Membership to the Constitutional Review Committee was advertised, followed by interviews and appointments. This resulted to an independent commission of 10 members selected in a competitive process, satisfying representation from satellite campuses, special needs group and different academic years. This was then followed by a students open forum on the draft constitution, consultations with the JKUSA Electoral Commission, University Legal Officers as well as the Welfare Committee. The overall facilitation of the review process was overseen by both J.K.U.S.A and Dean’s office. The final document was presented to the University Senate for approval.
The Universities Amendment Act 2016 saw the change of the student leadership structure and the election process. The provisions in the University Principal Amendment Act that initiated the review of the 2015 JKUSA Constitution were as follows:
- The Student Association shall be governed by a Student’s Council comprising of:
- A Chairperson
- A Vice Chairperson who shall be of opposite gender with the Chairperson.
- A Treasurer
- A Secretary General who shall be the secretary to the Council.
- Three more positions of University’s special interests.
- Three representatives from each electoral college (either academic departments, schools or faculties, as may be appropriate) are elected for purposes of conducting election of Students’ Council members.
- In the three elected representatives, at least one must be of opposite gender, from amongst persons who are not candidates.
- Members of the Students’ Council shall hold office for a term of one year and may be eligible for re-election for one further term.
In order to comply with these provisions in the University Amendment Act 2016, the following were the major changes that were made in the Reviewed 2017 JKUSA Constitution.
- Adoption of the Students’ Council members by name and hierarchy.
- Merging of all the other existing positions (2015 Constitution) apart from the four provided by the amended ACT to come up with three more elective positions of University’s special interests.
- Reviewed roles of the Students’ Council, Executive Committee and Congress.
- Introduction of 3 appointment positions for purposes of proper representation from special groups in the Executive Committee (Legal Affairs Representative, the Special Needs Representative and the International Students Representative)
- K.U.S.A working committees and their roles.
- Change of name, membership and some roles of J.K.U.S.A Parliament.
- Change of Electoral procedure, election date and term of office.
The composition of the JKUSA Congress (JKUSA Parliament) was also adjusted and amended.
- J.K.U.S.A Congress Secretariat (5).
- The Executive committee (7+8+3=18).
- All School Representatives (17)
- All Halls of Residence Representatives and Non-Resident Representative (8).
- All J.K.U.S.A Campus Council Secretary Generals (8).
The total membership of the JKUSA Congress reduced from 89 to 56 with the reviewed constitution eliminating the positions of the College and Departmental Representatives. In the reviewed 2017 JKUSA Constitution the electoral procedure will be as follows:
- There will be Two election dates;
- Delegates voted in by simple popular vote majority by students from the respective academic departments– on the Tuesday of the 6th week of the Second Semester of every Academic Year.
- School Representatives, Hall Representatives and Non-Resident Representatives voted in by popular vote by students from the respective faculties or halls of residence – Tuesday of the 6th week of the Second Semester of every Academic Year.
- Students’ Council and Campus Councils voted in by Delegates – Tuesday of the 8th week of the Second Semester of every Academic year.
- Two thirds gender rule applies – In case the first two delegates are of the same gender, the third delegate shall be the best loser of the opposite gender.
Having inaugurated the constitution; What Next? Treating the document that protects the students with due respect that it deserves.