The Arizona Desert Lamp

ASUA and Transparency

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 30 September 2008

A recurring conflict in politics occurs between a citizenry’s desire from transparency and a state’s desire to keep certain facts secret for the sake of security. The two sides are always at odds, and the conflict usually results in absurdities such as the pictured document with “certain” redactions.

Yet insofar as the security-transparency matrix applies to ASUA, the organization really should err on the side of disclosure. There really isn’t a “security” factor that must be taken into account; ASUA doesn’t ensure our safety, doesn’t provide campus defense. Being your student government, it would seem that the goings-on about it should be made readily available, whether or not you are able/have the desire to attend meetings on Monday and Wednesday afternoons.

Thus far, this is far from the case; and while filing for information from ASUA is not as arduous as a FOIA request, it is still fraught with bureaucracy. Even though all the minutes of meetings and other official records are stored in the ASUA offices (at least, according to ASUA’ desk attendant), official University Information Request forms must be sent to the University‘s official Custodian of Public Records, who must approve the request. Should the request be approved, that approval must be sent back to ASUA, who will then provide the person with the records.

Suffice to say, this is absurd. ASUA is supposedly its own governing body, representing the students. If this is the case, it should manage its own official information; furthermore, if they are serious about representing the student voice, they should make this information incredibly easy to obtain.

As far as I can tell from attending Senate meetings, the meetings are recorded on a computer. Whether or not it is automatically transcribed is not apparent; however, even this recording could be automatically uploaded to the ASUA website. Students could listen to the meetings in their own time. Or, if transcribing the meetings is required (as it probably should be), those transcriptions should also be uploaded as soon as they are completed.

By keeping these records behind a bureaucratic maze, ASUA further demonstrates that their motto of “your student government” is increasingly an inapt description; “their student government” would be far more fitting.


5 Responses

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  1. […] information that can be acquired through UA’s byzantine records request process, but like ASUA minutes, this is the sort of thing that ought to be regularly published — if only in order to find […]

  2. […] on that front. We’d like a little more transparency when it comes to the UA budget, a cause long advocated by the Lamp. But when it comes to fees, student leaders can take action […]

  3. […] goals is to make GPSC the “most open student government on campus.” While the competition isn’t exactly breathing down his neck, the organization has done a good job of making not […]

  4. […] these vaunted figures really cared about transparency- clearly, they* don’t – then they should have considered these issues a long time ago. Of course, this has nothing to do […]

  5. […] year and a day ago, this site called for such access to minutes, and it’s always refreshing – and humbling – to see […]

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