Senators fail to show up to meeting

Student Association President David Burt, in attendance at the SA Senate meeting Tuesday, said senator attendance was poor and called for senators to give their proxy, come to meetings or resign.

Burt watched as senators were forced to table all motions because of the lack of a quorum to pass bylaws. Only 16 of the Senate’s 28 voting members attended the meeting. At least 21 members must be present to pass bylaws.

Rules Committee Chairman J.P. Blackford called the attendance situation a dangerous low point for the SA.

Some SA members said graduate representatives are mostly to blame for missing meetings.

Largely (the problem) is with the grad senators because the grad students are the majority of the Senate, Burt said.

Burt said about 60 percent of the Senate normally come to at meetings.

Burt also said a few senators are suspended, which makes a quorum more difficult to achieve, although Tuesday’s meeting had enough voters to vote on resolutions.

Attendance is a problem every year, said Josh Rothstein (U-CSAS). It was a problem last year too. People run and they decide it’s not for them.

Senators planned to review a bill to end palmcarding during SA elections introduced by Burt. Burt was able to bring the motion directly to the Senate with a petition signed by 100 GW students.

The measure has met opposition from senators such as Blackford.

I think that it is a terrible idea, based on its merits, he said about a ban on palmcards. Blackford said Burt filed the petition too late to be considered at Tuesday’s meeting, members were not allowed to discuss the proposal further and will address it at the next meeting.

But Burt said there was no deadline for the petition because the SA Constitution requires that the Senate vote on a proposal signed by 100 students.

Burt said Blackford wanted to send the palmcarding resolution to the Rules Committee where it could be killed.

To go some back alley way and try killing the resolution is wrong, Burt said.

Also on Tuesday’s Senate agenda was a measure to require students to rate professors at midsemester.

Many of us have professors who are not great at teaching, said Sen. Bob Storz, a sponsor of the proposal. And many students, when it comes time for the final evaluations don’t put in the time for the end of the semester evaluations. This measure will give timely feedback and improve teaching.

Rothstein, another sponsor of the proposal, said midsemester evaluations would allow professors to make changes before the end of the course.

I think that it will provide students with the ability to tell professors how to improve class, Rothstein said.

If the plan is accepted by the Faculty Senate, it would be a non-binding agreement to conduct the evaluations in class earlier than the current end-of-semester feedback.

It will be very informal, Storz said. It might be as simple as the professor asking the students what he or she can do to improve class, or asking them to write their comments down.

The Senate lauded the work of Seema Talwar, Elliott School representative, and Scott Gastel, CSAS graduate representative, who ended their terms Tuesday night. Talwar will go abroad next semester and Gastel is graduating.

Senators also voted in Maureen Benitz, graduate student in political management, to fill Scott Gastel’s CSAS graduate position.

The graduate students are a small population, and sometimes don’t spend all that much time on campus, she said. I can represent those interests and address their concerns.

-Jason Steinhardt contributed to this report.

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