BUENOS AIRES and SAN FRANCISCO – The Minerva student body ratified the charter of the Associated Students of Minerva (ASM) on Sunday, a historic moment for the Minerva community as the first student representative body to be enacted in the university’s history.

The outcome implements a formal structure for student representation and communication with the Minerva Schools at KGI administration and staff, and initiates an election process for representatives with elections by January 29. Students will be voting for three representatives per class, six total, who will then appoint the Elections Board which will administer all future elections.

Nearly 2/3 of the student body voted in favor of the charter, issuing a decisive mandate for the ASM. 90% of the Class of 2019 participated in the vote — a much higher turnout than any previous vote — with 92% of those voting in favor of the charter, the Commission informed the Quest.  60% of the Class of 2020 participated, voting 71% in favor of the charter. Average turnout among both classes was 70%, voting on average 81% in favor of the charter.

The vote was held from Friday to Saturday and was subsequently reopened for several hours on Sunday following requests from multiple students in the Class of 2020, as turnout had been lower in the class and its students were in the midst of Elevation, their second semester orientation week. The vote was held through an online form, restricted to one submission per student email address.

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It came after months of work by the ASM Commission, composed of four — initially five — members of the Class of 2019 who had been voted into office in February 2016 to develop the final charter by Spring 2017. An interim ASM with a temporary charter was also elected in February, and that system has now been formalized and updated with Sunday’s ratification. The Commission will oversee the elections later this month and then be dissolved as it has completed its stated purpose.

Some concern had been raised among students about the efficiency and transparency of the Commission following little communication in the second half of 2016, but ultimately the concerns did not prevent the charter from being approved. The vote also comes after heated discussion in recent weeks in both the Class of 2020 over proposed structure, prompting an addendum to the charter which clarified the rights of each class in the ASM, assuaging the concerns of some students.

Commissioner Roiman N., Class of ’19, noted that the extension of the vote did not end up impacting the margin of the charter’s approval in any significant way. “It ended up mostly affecting participation, not the results.”

He added that he was pleased with the outcome: “I’m very happy to see that so many people took part. I was a bit more cynical. I think that the differences between the classes are because the Class of 2019 has seen more of a need in the last semester for representation and I hope for a good collaboration between classes.”He emphasized, “The work only starts here because will still have a lot of changes that people would like to make, including myself.”

As the charter has now been approved, the changes he is referencing will be made through the charter’s structure. It allows for amendments either through a unanimous vote of the elected representatives or a ⅔ majority of students in a binding referendum which can be initiated by any student, as long as 50% of students participate in the vote.

Last week, the Commission sent a rationale for the ASM to the student body, which has now been formally recognized through Sunday’s vote:

“During our first semester there were various times the administration was unable or unwilling to work with students because there was no centralized means of contact. Often people felt only individuals with specific [work-study] internships, relationships, or access to [Minerva] HQ were given a voice and feedback was done by those with the loudest voices. These issues, in conjunction with the fact that the school will not always be less than 300 people, has led us to create a structure for student representation. In addition to a student government’s traditional role of representation, the ASM is also focused on working directly with the administration to problem-solve and develop new ideas.”

The Commission informed the Quest of the results early Monday morning and will soon publicly announce them via email to the Minerva community.