Senators disagree on open meetings

Michelle Ma

Associated Student Government senators remain divided on whether some currently restricted committee meetings should be open to more student representatives.

ASG’s Executive Board, Executive Committee and Student Activities Finance Board meetings are currently closed to non-committee members. Legislation proposed to the Rules Committee by Phi Mu Alpha-Sigma Alpha Iota Sen. Gabe Matlin on Jan. 18 called for two or three senators to observe these meetings.

Foster-Walker Complex Sen. Eric Parker, a Weinberg freshman who serves on the Rules Committee, said he supports Matlin’s idea.

He said senators who observe would ensure that committee members are abiding by ASG’s rules and added that he suspects some members of the Executive Board “might be abusing power.”

Though the bill never reached the Senate, Matlin is collecting signatures to present the bill as a student referendum. Matlin needs 200 student signatures to launch the referendum, which would take the form of an online poll on HereandNow.

The poll would ask students to vote on whether some meetings should be open to senators and whether ASG should publicly release a detailed ledger of its financial

activities.

If passed by students, the measures could take effect without Senate approval.

Some ASG meetings are closed for good reason, Senate Speaker Matt Hall said.

Rules Committee meetings, for example, must be closed if committee members are discussing individual or student group appeals. Committee members must be able to confidentially discuss how responsible a student group has been, said Hall, a Communication senior.

“A discussion of this nature might involve candidness,” Hall said. “We are very protective of student groups.”

SAFB and Executive Committee meetings, which concern all student groups, are closed because certain information about student group status must be protected, Hall said.

In addition, Executive Board meetings are closed because some administrators meet with ASG representatives during those meetings.

Hall said oftentimes administrators discuss information that they do not want to release to a larger audience.

Rules Committee member and Northwestern Community Development Corps Sen. Zach Galin said additional senators in closed meetings are unnecessary.

“Closed meetings are sometimes necessary as long as those committees are reporting back to the Senate,” said Galin, a Weinberg sophomore. “I think that’s fair.”

Senators have the power to overturn Executive Board decisions, but such action is rarely necessary, Galin said.

“(The power to overturn) is not used very often, and I think that’s mostly because there are very few times when anyone would consider using them,” Galin said. “(Questioning the Exec Board) is a little bit intimidating, but I haven’t seen many issues where that’s needed to be done anyway.”

Reach Michelle Ma at [email protected].