ASG workshops amendment to clarify meeting publicity rules


Daily file illustration by Emma Ruck

ASG tabled code changes on meeting recording and documentation.

Emma Rosenbaum, Assistant Campus Editor

Associated Student Government tabled both its Wednesday discussion and vote on an amendment that would clarify its stance on recording and documentation of Senate meetings.

Senate meetings are currently open to the public and student media, allowing recordings and documentation. After reviewing ASG’s code in the fall, the Rules Committee proposed an amendment permitting recording and documentation of Senate meetings unless two-thirds of Senators voted to close the meeting in an attempt to increase transparency.

However, the Rules Committee proposed an alternative amendment Monday that would instead prohibit recordings unless two-thirds of the Senate votes to open the meeting. Rules Committee member and Weinberg sophomore Assem Belhadj said the committee takes issue with the amendment’s wording because it does not clearly state who can record the meetings. 

Parliamentarian and SESP sophomore Leah Ryzenman said the Rules Committee worried explicitly allowing all recordings could make student activists feel unsafe participating in Senate meetings. For example, in a spring 2021 session discussing a resolution supporting Palestinian human rights, ASG prohibited recordings to make students feel safer participating. 

“If students think by speaking up about something or by participating that their wellbeing can be threatened, they’re not going to want to participate,” Ryzenman said.

Belhadj added that he has found articles written by non-student news sources covering ASG actions and naming specific senators, which he said can be a violation of their privacy. 

Ten current and former leaders of six NU student publications signed a letter prior to Wednesday’s meeting objecting to the amendment, including The Daily’s editor in chief. They argued the proposed change would hinder their ability to inform the student body about ASG’s actions and hold the institution accountable.

“Similar limits on press coverage of any other legislative body, from the local to the federal level, would not be tolerated,” the letter read. “We do not believe our student legislature should be exempt from the same transparency we demand from other representative institutions.”

Ryzenman said she and other members of the executive board did not anticipate the response from student publications. Both she and Belhadj said the Rules Committee never intended to impede student journalists. 

Because the Senate votes on proposed code changes, the Rules Committee planned to present both amendments for discussion because each amendment represented a different side of the issue, Ryzenman said.

The Rules Committee and other senators will meet with student publication representatives in the coming weeks to discuss the issue further. The Rules Committee will then work on finding the best compromise that protects both student activists and journalists, and further defines the parameters of recording meetings.

“I don’t think that the ability for student journalists to do their job is mutually exclusive to a student activist being protected,” Belhadj said. “It’s our job as Rules Committee members to find the precise wording to put in the code so that going forward, ASG is a welcome place for both student journalists and student activists.”

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Twitter: @EmmaCRosenbaum

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