The Arizona Desert Lamp

ASUA Senate Meeting XXIV

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 26 March 2009

1. Information wants to be fee-d. In the continuing blitz of fee-prop, the Senate was privy to a presentation from the Access and Information Services Team (thanks, Wildcat!), speaking on behalf the force behind allocation of the library fee. Continuing the tradition of fee transparency, the library-fee-allocating body has absolutely zero online presence – no contact information, no information on how funds were allocated, and no list of council members. A Spockian eyebrow should be cocked when you read something like the following from the minutes (wait – a governing body that publishes its minutes, pursuant to the Arizona Revised Statutes? C’est impossible!) of a 2007 Faculty Senate meeting

Dean Stoffle provided Senators with numerous handouts and slides that demonstrate increased levels of use as well as the Library’s due diligence in allocating resources optimally and transparently, and in providing accountability for those resources and for the student library use fees.

Of course, this is perfectly within the theory of government postulated by Sen. Emily Fritze, in which the student government exists because they “have access to information that the average student doesn’t.” To release information such as the library fee’s allocation to the public would undercut this justification; thus, the Senate is provided with a library fee status report and a memorandum from the Dean of Libraries to Provost Hay – documents that almost certainly will never grace the public eye.

The current proposal would increase the library fee by $95, from the current $30 to $125 per year, to help combat the $4.2 million deficit that has been accrued since FY07. Should the fee not be approved, certain boutique libraries – the CCP library and the Fine Arts library are named in this article – would be closed; if the fee is approved, they will remain open. These representatives also mentioned that they might be forced to provide less journals. This is indeed troubling news – if only they would deign to let us know what journals these might be.

Shain Bergan gets in the best quote of the day:

The library officials presented to the senate as a means of updating students on the future plans of the UA Libraries and fees, because ASUA could pass on the understanding of the fee to the student body, said Executive Vice President Jessica Anderson.

2. Consent Agenda. Senator-elect Katherine Weingartner, according to Facebook, is still the president of Posada San Pedro Solar Powered (PSPSP) – the group received $100 for t-shirts. The Vagina Warriors received $557.50 for a “benefit performance” – presumably, the Vagina Monologues. With less than six weeks left in the school year, club funding stands as follows:

Total Amount Requested: $8,579.02

Total Amount Approved: $2,577.36

Club Funding Remaining: $18,145.95

Even if this is an indication that ASUA is saving the balance for the FY09-10 year (a good idea), the Appropriations Board has allocated less than a sixth of its total funds.

3. Elections Results Ratification. Unsurprisingly, the idea of any sort of recall was dismissed out of hand, and the election results were confirmed by the Senate today. Rather than having an open discussion about the state of the elections code, Senators have been urged to share any ideas that they might have with Commissioner Ho.

4. Impeachment By-Laws. No Senator addressed the issue that the impeached public figure will not be able to hear the charges against him/her – a sharp deviation from accepted democratic norms. The “elected official under investigation” will only see agenda items that “will only contain a general decription of the matters to be decided to protect student record confidentiality [8. b(ii)].” At this point, the proceedings go to a “confidential” executive session, where disclosure of the matters discussed will be subject “to such penalities as are prescribed by University policy and law [8. b(ii)].” The investigated official naturally will not be allowed to attend the executive session [8. c(i)]. Should grounds of impeachment be found, articles will be drawn in the executive session. Yet when a public vote is taken on these articles, the Senate is instructed to “identify the charges by article number without reading the specific charges in public [8 d(iii)].” Lest you think this is a non-issue, allow me to introduce you to the Sixth Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence. [emphasis added – EML]

“But you don’t understand – we’re helping!

Other Notes:

– The fee fun continues next week with a presentation from the IT fee board.

– Apparently, there exists an ‘ASUA Alumni Magazine.’ Anyone who could procure a copy of this fine publication for the authors will earn many Lamp brownie points (and, probably, a six-pack).

UPDATE: As Sen. Emily Fritze points out in the comments, the presentation of the library fee was an informational item, not an action item – the Senate has not taken an official stance on whether or not to support the fee, contrary to the Wildcat‘s angle in its article. Yet this raises an important question: will the Senate, or any Senator, take a definitive stand on any fee before their presentation to the ABOR?

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6 Responses

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  1. Jimi Alexander said, on 26 March 2009 at 10:04 am

    The impeachment thing…wow…beyond ridiculous that they won’t let someone they are prepared to /throw out of office/ know what they are accused of. They dress it up as an issue of privacy, but these people are “our” “elected” officials. When they are accused of misbehavior, the public has a right to know at least the charges.

  2. Emily said, on 26 March 2009 at 12:03 pm

    I think you misunderstood the impeachment bylaws a little. The investigated official is allowed to know all of his/her charges. However, the detailed conversations and information discussed from the Executive Session will be not be presented on the agenda at the public Senate meeting when the decision to impeach is made. This is in order to protect the sensitivity of the material and provide safe guards to information that might need to be confidential for investigative purposes. The Legal Team at the UA wrote these bylaws which have been checked over many times, and after many reviews, I feel that they are strong. Hope this clears it up.

    I also would like to make it clear that the Wildcat article today was misleading in regards to the library fee. Senate does not necessary support the library fee as a whole just because a few senators made positive comments. Senate does not communicate its support as a whole unless it votes on a referendum, or the Vice Chair makes a formal statement on behalf of the Senate.

    • Evan Lisull said, on 26 March 2009 at 2:06 pm

      From the bylaws, emphasis added:

      (b) Regular Senate Meeting:

      ii. Agenda items related to impeachment will only contain a general description of the matters to be decided to protect student record confidentiality.

      Should this motion be approved, the executive session – opaque as night – convenes.

      (d) Voting Requirements:

      iii. Vote on specific articles of impeachment. For confidentiality purposes, identify charges by article number without reading the specific charges in public.

      If you can point to a section within the actual by-laws indicating that the accused will receive more than a “general description” of the charges being brought against him/her, I’d be glad to hear it. This isn’t a matter of ‘detailed information’ – as things currently stand, this is akin to charging President Clinton with “obstruction of justice” without spelling out how he did so. I would advise comparing ASUA’s “general description” with the federal government’s impeachment resolution.

  3. Connor Mendenhall said, on 26 March 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Re: Evan and Emily, I’d add that even if the impeach-ee knows the charges against him, the new guidelines still alter the public record to shield the information from the public–the very people who should care about the impeachment in the first place! At worst, it rejects centuries of Anglo-Saxon legal practice (though Emily, I understand your clarification). At best, it makes the machinations of an already-opaque government even murkier.

  4. Amanda said, on 28 March 2009 at 1:27 am

    Evan,

    There should still be some copies of last year’s ASUA Alumni Magazine in the ASUA lobby, on the shelves that hold the applications right next to the door. Feel free to stop by and take a copy.

    This year’s edition is still being worked on by Outreach & Development Director Patel and Marketing Director Hawes. It should be done sometime in April.

  5. […] avoid getting too wonky here, but suffice it to say that the majority of these changes, unlike the impeachment bylaw changes, really are custodial. The […]


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