The Student Association voted to disband the committee tasked with approving SA appointees Tuesday, giving the body’s procedural oversight powers to the full legislature instead.
Sponsored by first-year graduate student Sen. Will Rone, the Senate voted to remove the SA Rules Committee – which mainly oversees internal and procedural issues with the SA Senate – and reassigned its jobs to the full Senate. It will take effect at the end of the school year when the SA transitions its leadership in May.
“It seemed to me a shame that one-fourth of the Senate was divvied into a committee that strictly handled internal and procedural issues. And on top of that, it is a committee with very few mandated responsibilities after screening the freshmen senator candidates,” Rone said.
The vote replaced the committee with a “leadership” committee, headed by a chairman pro tempore and a vice chair, comprising the chairs and vice chairs of the remaining standing committees.
“Having more senators in committee meetings, listening and talking about the issues, will address the issues better and more efficiently,” Rone said.
The SA also passed the Student Organization Outreach Bill, which mandates that senators regularly reach out and become liaisons to student organizations.
“We don’t get in touch with student orgs as much as we should be,” Senate Chief of Staff Bradley Dlatt said. “This bill allows the senate to truly serve as a liaison to the student body, find out what issues matter to them and help them solve their problems.”
The bill requires senators to meet with specific assigned organizations throughout the year, spreading responsibility for advocacy throughout the entire senate.
“This has been a long time coming,” Dlatt, who is also a Hatchet columnist, said. “The SA will truly be responsible to the entire student body.”
With the passage of the two bills, senators agreed that the SA is drawing more attention to efforts that directly benefit students.
“The goal is to ultimately create a legislative agenda for each semester based on the expressed concerns and ideas of student organization leaders,” Sen. John Bennett, ESIA-U said. “For too long, senators have used their positions to either neglect any responsibilities they have, or to pursue their own personal agenda. With the passage of this bill, senators will be forced to bring initiatives to the senate that originate with the student organizations they represent.”
A third bill was also proposed Tuesday, but failed after a debate devolved into a shouting match.
Sen. Jason Kaplan, CCAS-U, proposed the Accountability Act of 2010 – a bill he envisioned after a conflict with SA President Jason Lifton earlier this month.
The Accountability Act was intended to hold SA officials accountable to their constituents by requiring them to submit a monthly report of what senators had been working on outside of SA meetings.
“By creating a new responsibility of senators to document what they’re doing outside of meetings, we would have been able to record this information for future senates to use,” Student Life Committee Chair Dylan Pyne, CCAS-U, said. “This would have increased productivity and efficiency.”
Speaking on behalf of the SA Rules Committee, Kaplan argued that the “SA has existed too long as a ‘do-nothing organization,'” noting that this bill would represent the needs and desires of the students, while keeping all senators active.
However, a majority of the senate disagreed with Kaplan.
“This bill makes the SA more of a bureaucracy than it was before,” Sen. Travis Holler, ESIA-U, said. “Students resent us because of this, we do not need to add more. This is just a waste of time.”
Kaplan countered that “ignorant comments” like Holler’s are what cause students to hate the SA.
In the end, only Rules Committee Chair Amanda Galonek, CCAS-U, Pyne and Kaplan voted to pass it.