A committee in IU Student Government started considering applicants for the IU Supreme Court after the legislative session began Jan. 10. The committee will give IUSG President Ky Freeman a list of recommended candidates for him to nominate.
Andrew Barnicle, associate justice and clerk of the court of the IUSG Supreme Court, said after Freeman reviews the recommended applicants, the nominees selected by the president are interviewed by the Oversight and Reform Congressional Committee, and then the entire Congress votes to confirm or reject the nominees.
Barnicle said only four out of 11 seats are currently filled on the court, so seven seats need to be filled.
The main role of the Supreme Court is working with the Office of Student Conduct to hear student misconduct cases, Chief Justice of the IUSG Supreme Court Brennan Murphy said. This semester he said he hopes the court will also have a more active advisory role with the rest of the student government.
“I really want us to have a greater presence in student government and to make our presence a little bit more known and useful to the student body,” Murphy said. “How effectively we'll be able to reach those goals is going to really depend on how soon we can get some new justices in, so I'm really hopeful that that process goes smoothly and quickly.”
Patrick Lee, Chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee for the IUSG Congress, expects the new justices to be confirmed to the court by late February or early March, in time for the Court to hear appeals during the 2022 IUSG Executive elections.
“It's a big goal for everybody in student government to have a full court or at least as close as we can get to a full court before the presidential election,” Lee said. “It’s at the top of the top of our list.”
Lee said recently interest in student government has tapered off substantially, causing a lower number of justices to be on the court and reducing the number of applications.
“Student government has been known recently for a lot of infighting and arguing and disputes and a very toxic culture,” Lee said. “We've been spending a lot of time last semester looking into that as an organization and why we have engagement levels low and why there's a lot of general feelings that the student government can't do much as a whole.”
During the fall legislative session, Congress spent time working on the congressional bylaws and an amendment dealing with the legitimacy of Congress and adding multicultural seats, Lee said.
“Going forward this semester, we're looking to return to what Congress should in essence really be focused on, which is advocacy,” Lee said.
He said Congress will focus on pushing more sustainability and mental health initiatives on campus and will address the issue of sexual assault.
“Students can expect to see actual meaningful change being implemented on issues that are affecting them every day and a student government that's working to support them,” Lee said. “Hopefully, they feel encouraged and welcomed to get involved. They can expect more advocacy efforts by Congress on behalf of the students.”
He said he expects Congress to work on big organizational changes, including potentially the introduction of the new constitution.
During the fall, a Constitutional Commission drafted a new constitution to restructure Congress, change the apportionment of congressional seats and increase involvement of students across campus, Lee said. This semester, IUSG will review the proposed Constitution.
“We made some important changes to hopefully boost student involvement and create meaningful engagement,” Lee said. “It will hopefully be a more effective Constitution that will allow the student government to serve out its purpose of being a voice for students.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated Andrew Barnicle's title.