SA passes legislation promoting transparency for constituents
Two newcomers to Student Association senate have teamed up to try to address issues with transparency, dating back to before they themselves arrived on campus.
Last Wednesday, SA passed the “Constituent Relations Act,” which aims to increase communication between SA and the student body.
This was sponsored by Freshman Senator Sam Salazar from Indian Quad, and was his first piece of legislation.
SA approved this in a vote, 27 for, two against, and three abstained.
This would amend the bylaws—the laws which SA has to follow—by requiring SA to hold at least one town hall meeting every semester.
“I codified the committee of constituents’ new initiative into the bylaws,” said Salazar. “What that does is that it sets a precedent for future committees to follow those new regulations and to do more to engage SA and the community.”
The act requires that SA must hold meetings with students no less than two weeks after they are announced, and that they must be properly advertised throughout those two weeks or no less than three days before the meeting.
It also changes who will be in charge of organizing these meetings, from the Senate Chairman to the Committee on Constituent Relations.
The Committee will now have to submit a report detailing concerns students have once a month.
The reports will be sent to the Rules and Administrations committee, who will then communicate to the SA senate to address any problems.
Going forward, each Senator will be required to keep contact or reach out to their own constituency throughout their term in office either through social media, printed materials, office hours, or other means of communication.
The constituent relations act is a part of a two-step process, according to Senator Salazar and Senator Nicholas Chin.
According to Chin, another freshman senator on Indian Quad, the second part of this two-step process will be proposed at next week’s SA meeting and will take the form of a “transparency bill.”
“The ‘transparency bill’ would require SA to send out a sort of newsletter to the students who they serve.
“Every two weeks, every student living on campus—every student enrolled in this university—will get a basic email that states the agenda for that night’s meeting and the minutes.” Senator Chin said.
Chin believes that these bills will make SA more transparent, stating that both he and Senator Salazar had run their campaigns on making SA more transparent.
“How are students supposed to ask us questions about what goes on if they don’t know what goes on here?” Chin asked.
Chin also hopes to make the information public on SA’s website.
At next week’s Senate meeting, Chin will bring the bill to the floor to be voted upon.
Part of the upcoming bill will work with the IT department so that meeting information is online.
Senator Salazar plans to meet with the IT department this week to make sure that the upcoming transparency bill works with their department.
The Student Association Senate has come under fire in recent years for decisions made behind closed doors, leading some students last spring to rally for greater SA transparency.
Both Senator Salazar and Senator Chin had researched previous years of SA history going into their first years as senators.
“Ultimately at the end of the day they [the students] are allowed to tell us what to do, and we are their representatives.” Salazar said.