10/28/10: Council Clippings

IAC Networking Night

During their Oct. 12 and Oct. 26 meetings, undergraduate representatives and graduate senators passed a bill funding advertising for the Ivan Allen Student Advisory Board Networking Night to be held on Nov. 16. Though the bill passed both houses with a large majority, it generated debate in the House over SGA’s funding of major organizations.

As is required by JFC policy to be funded, the Networking Night is open to the entirety of campus, but this did not head off criticism in UHR. MGT Rep. Dan Manning and BC Rep. Grace Stephens both noted that their own colleges ran college specific career fairs without SGA help.

PUBP Rep. and Advisory Board member Austen Edwards defended the bill, emphasizing that anyone may come, undergraduate or graduate, from any major. He also said that SGA support would enable the event to grow in the future.

“The networking night is open to all students interested in interdisciplinary careers,” Edwards said later. “SGA has a hole in its policy in how to deal with and fund organizations that straddle the difference between a departmental and student organization. SGA needs to look at the purpose and availability of these groups’ events across campus.”

The bill eventually passed 41-8-3 in the House. and GSS 33-0-0 with no debate.

Joint Finance Committee

Both houses took time during their Oct. 12 meetings to take final votes on several bills which had differences between the undergraduate and graduate versions.

The bill adding incentives for collaboration between organizations on large events had passed both houses, but differed in language governing the magnitude of the incentives. Representatives and senators clarified language defining collaboration and adjusted some of their limits on funding. The bill passed the House 52-2-0 and the Senate 26-4-3.

Open forum

The Undergraduate House of Representatives hosted a special open forum session on Oct. 27, inviting members of the campus community to discuss issues of importance to them. Although open forum is held every week and non-SGA members are always invited, representatives made an extra effort to advertise the event this week.

Seven visitors engaged with representatives in a discussion that covered issues in academics and student life. Vice President of Communications Brooke McDaniel, representing the executive branch of SGA, set the agenda and guided debate. Director of Academic Affairs Austen Edwards, the visitors and the student body through SGA’s sticky note campaign provided the content for the discussions.

The forum opened with presentations by Edwards and the four task forces which he oversees: Service and Leadership, Undergraduate Academics, Student Faculty Development and Academic Support. Representatives used this time to speak openly for the first time about the impending switch to a trimester system and the development of a Student-Faculty Expectations Agreement. The trimester switch in particular, creating three equal trimesters of 14 weeks each, elicited some concern from representatives and visitors about its effect on workload, graduation and co-ops. Visitors then took the chance to speak, adressing topics ranging from security in architecture studio to the format of the SGA website.

The time with visitors ended with a discussion on transparency. Parul Kapur, third-year ME major and president of RHA, suggested that debate on bills be extended for two weeks. Currently, bills are provided to representatives one week before voting, the majority of debate takes place the same day. Kapur suggested organizational representatives come both the week before end of voting.

Representatives expressed concern to requiring organizations present twice. MATH Rep. David Lowry suggested that organizations speak during normal open forum sessions.

The open forum session concluded with a review of the sticky note campaign. McDaniel went through a selection of sticky notes posted to boards placed in the library rotunda and solicited comment. The notes concerned construction, sustainability and whether meetings of UHR could be broadcast live over GTCN.

Commitment to students

UHR considered a resolution reaffirming the role of the body on campus and its relationship with students. The text of the resolution defined the role of UHR as the representative body for undergraduate students and the disbursement of the Student Activity Fee. The resolution also highlighted the fact that by authoring a bill for a student organization, representatives should become advocates for the organization and help them through the bill process. It also noted that moving bills from old business to new business during a meeting undermined JFC policy and UHR’s commitment to the student body.

During the discussion, ME Rep. Vickers referenced an opinions editorial in the Technique criticizing UHR practices and stated that there was room for improvement. A motion to postpone the bill indefinitely was put forth by Rep. Morgan, who said that he felt that the resolution only restated points from the SGA bylaws and would not be communicated to the student body. The motion was failed. Rep. Lowry voiced his support for the resolution, saying that it was important to detail SGA’s responsibilities and how it can help the student body.