ASG meeting runs late as senators debate proposed executive position
October 18, 2012
The second Associated Student Government Senate convention of the year turned into a heated debate over the creation of a new executive position Wednesday night, running an hour past schedule.
During the first ASG Senate meeting Oct. 10, vice president Brad Stewart proposed an amendment to the constitution that would create a chief of staff, also called human relations chair, responsible for internal management of the Senate and recruitment of new committee members and senators.
The proposed amendment will also eliminate the position of clerk, an executive committee member responsible for taking minutes and managing ASG records.
Currently, Weinberg junior Carly Blumenfeld serves as clerk for ASG. When the legislation was proposed, senators were initially concerned about Blumenfeld losing her executive position. However, Stewart explained that Blumenfeld would instead be appointed to the new chief of staff position. Blumenfeld said she supported the creation of the new position because it would allow her to do more of the work she already does to improve communications within the Senate.
“There has been a lack of communication between members within ASG,” Blumenfeld said. “Anything to improve the relationships within ASG will better people’s perspective on ASG.”
To create the new position, ASG had to make changes to both its code and constitution Wednesday, resulting in a series of amendments and a lengthy back and forth among representatives concerned about issues ranging from how the new position should be appointed to misplaced Oxford commas in the text.
The debate still persisted by the time Ani Ajith, speaker of the Senate, arrived at the new amendment on the agenda, pushing a student body forum scheduled for 8:30 p.m. back almost two hours.
“This is a big change in the constitution, and any change in the constitution is serious,” Blumenfeld said. “I think all of their concerns are completely justified.”
A major concern of senators regarding the new position was how the chief of staff would be appointed. The clerk is elected by senators, but the proposed position would be appointed during cabinet selection. However, Stewart said senators would still have control over who took the office because they had the final say and could reject a potential chief of staff with a two-thirds majority vote.
When the Senate reached the forum on its agenda, a motion was made to strike the forum from the agenda and host it again next week. ASG cannot vote on an amendment to its constitution without holding a constitutional forum open to the entire University community a week before the vote.
Senators also raised concerns about hosting the forum Wednesday, two hours behind schedule. No students outside of ASG attended the forum, and the student body was only alerted of the planned constitutional forum Wednesday morning. However, Stewart spoke in strong support of holding the forum this week so that the Senate could vote on the matter next week and move on to other business.
ASG held a vote to strike the forum from the agenda. A two-thirds majority was needed to postpone the forum to next week, and the Senate missed that quota by three votes. During the forum, senators continued to argue that the proposed legislation would lessen the Senate’s influence in the overall student government. They will vote on the amendment next week.
“I don’t imagine unanimous support for it,” Stewart said. “But it’s important legislation that deserves as much debate and recognition as it needs to have.”