The Arizona Desert Lamp

Transparency, in Retrograde Motion

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 1 March 2009

No Public AccessWe’ve already demonstrated that ASUA is the least representative student government in the Pac-10. A quick survey also reveals that it is the least transparent government as well. Every single student government in the Pac-10 offers access to its legislature’s minutes – except for ASUA. Even filling out a public request form specifically requesting the minutes of the meeting – a form which is not submitted to ASUA directly, but the UA’s own Office of Public Records (how symbolic) – only results in access to the meeting’s agenda.

Amusingly enough, old minutes can be accessed, even if they aren’t exactly publicized. Thanks to the all-knowing oracle of Google, I stumbled across a directory page of Senate meetings stretching from Fall 2004 up until October of 2007. Look at those nice and clean PDFs, including tidbits such as this paraphrase from 4/20/05:

Senator Eden asks for clarification that students in the Fall of 2005 will be voting for a fee to take effect in Fall 2009 and are in effect voting for a fee they will never see.  Ms. Moore explains that this is correct.

For whatever reason, the Bruce/Anderson administration decided that transparency was no longer important, and Senate minutes were no longer released online. Since then, Sen. Emily Fritze has made some gestures towards increasing transparency, in the form of podcasts. Foolishly I hoped that such transparency might be enacted by semester’s end – I was young! I didn’t know any better! – but instead such concerns were tossed aside in favor of the important issues of spring break BAC cards, impeachment standards, and cartoons.

The worst part is that it is outrageously easy to solve this problem. ASUA currently has a note-taker (who, invariably, has a far grander title than that), who records the minutes of the session in the exact same manner as they have been for years. These files, presumably are saved onto a computer as document files. All that ASUA needs to do is to upload these files to their website. Obviously, the current hosting platform is able to upload PDF or DOC files, as they did so for years with no problem. This is not a technical problem, but a political one. Yet it is important, as ASUA’s blasé attitude towards transparency is just a manifestation of its attitude towards the student body as a whole.

Image courtesy of Flickr user jmv

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5 Responses

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  1. […] only it’s most recent minutes available online, but minutes from years ago – which ASUA only accidentally provided. He spoke in favor of the Council’s representative system, in which a college gets […]

  2. […] providing for an accredited course; and ‘openness’, which has nothing to do with actual transparency, and more to do with Potemkin village forums and publishing a sort of ‘ASUA Update’ […]

  3. […] your paeans to openness, do you plan on doing anything about the fact that your organization is the least transparent and least representative student government in the […]

  4. […] though this site has roundly criticized ASUA’s lack of transparency before, the organization is not entirely opaque. Filing Public Information Request Forms usually gets […]

  5. […] 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 […]


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