ASG leaves session without vote on constitutional amendment to reduce seats due to low attendance

Speaker+of+the+Associated+Student+Government%E2%80%99s+Senate+Matthew+Wylie+proposed+an+amendment+to+reduce+Senate+seats+due+to+low+attendance+rates.+At+this+Wednesday%E2%80%99s+meeting%2C+the+Senate+did+not+reach+a+vote+on+the+amendment.+%0A

Yunkyo Kim/The Daily Northwestern

Speaker of the Associated Student Government’s Senate Matthew Wylie proposed an amendment to reduce Senate seats due to low attendance rates. At this Wednesday’s meeting, the Senate did not reach a vote on the amendment.

Yunkyo Kim, Assistant Campus Editor

After over an hour of discussion on an Associated Student Government constitutional amendment to reduce seats due to chronic low attendance of senators, Senate members were forced to head home into the snow without voting on the amendment.

The reason? Ironically, there were not enough senators present to proceed on the vote.

ASG Senate needs a quorum of 26 members — a majority of the 51 total senators — in attendance to further consider and vote on an amendment, Matthew Wylie, speaker of the Senate and Weinberg sophomore said.

Even though ASG had the required number of senators at the beginning of the session, several members left during discussions, which made it impossible for the Senate as a whole to vote on the amendment at this Wednesday’s session.

“It is ironic, I will say, that we are having this conversation about attendance and we find out that we don’t have enough people in attendance to make the decision,” Izzy Dobbel, ASG president and SESP senior, said. “Coming out of it, it’s clear that we do need to decrease the size of our Senate.”

Dobbel added that such a phenomenon of lower attendance rates is a cyclical issue. Students are more committed in the fall, and Winter Quarter sees a lull in attendance rates, she said. However, these rates are improved in the spring.

This is all the more reason why the number of Senate seats should be reduced, Wylie told The Daily. Wylie, who said he has not seen attendance exceed 35 senators since Fall Quarter of his freshman year, introduced a statement in ASG’s Jan. 22 session expressing the need to reduce Senate seats to improve trends of absenteeism by Senate members. The proposal passed 20-5-1 in a “straw vote,” an informal measure that indicates the Senate’s sentiments and predicts future votes.

However, senators disagreed in the allotment of Senate seats.

At the beginning of the meeting, the amendment proposed that undergraduate schools would send 15 delegates, student groups would send 17, Multicultural Greek Council would send two and the Interfraternity Council, Student Athletic Advisory Committee and the National Pan-Hellenic Council would each send one, reducing the number of senators from 51 to 35 and consolidating Greek life organizations within student groups.

By the end of the session, this number increased to 41 to give more delegates to student groups as well as four seats to Greek life organizations. Still, students said that this does not give enough input from student groups representing marginalized identities.

“Are any oppressed and minority groups guaranteed seats?” SESP junior Saul Osorio, an Alianza senator, asked at the meeting. “In my opinion, they are not.”

Weinberg junior Meron Amariw, a For Members Only senator, said she supported the measure to add two guaranteed seats for FMO and QuestBridge Scholars, because it represents groups on campus that have historically advocated for equity.

Despite the Senate not reaching a vote on the amendment, she said the discussion was necessary and important.

“(Senate guarantees) Greek seats in the constitution,” Amariw said. “Marginalized groups should have a guaranteed right on Senate as well.”

Email: yunkyokim2022@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @yunkyomoonk

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