The Arizona Desert Lamp

ASUA Senate Meeting XXVI: Sen. Rubio Takes His Stand

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 9 April 2009

Sen. Andre Rubio1. Battle of the Bylaws. It started with Sen. Baker’s concerns last week, but this week it was Sen. Rubio who lead the charge against what began as uncontroversial and clerical bylaw changes. The situation boils down to this: each of the new officials-in-waiting presented by-law changes that they want to see enacted before they take office. The current Senate was supposed to review these changes, pass them, and move on.

Yet this raises the question: should these officials be allowed to push changes before they come into office? There was one very telling quote from Sen. Baker himself: ‘There’s nothing drastic. This is just how [President-elect Chris] Nagata wants his office run.” Might it not be too extreme to suggest that President-Elect Nagata can determine how he wants his office run when he has an office to speak of? Imagine if President Obama marched into President Bush’s Oval Office and placed a huge stack of regulatory changes  – “you know, this – this is how I want the office run, so if you could get these . . . approved, it would really smooth along the appointment process, and that’d be, uh, great for, uh, this country.”

These concerns, however, were dismissed by EVP Anderson, who stated that this was “traditional” and that it mostly related to position changes – this way, they would clear out any confusion about what was expected of appointees during the ongoing ASUA application process. Yet this logic turns on itself – for it the changes are clerical, then what’s the huge rush? Naturally, they are not, especially Sen. Fritze’s, which would create an entirely new “Club & Organizations Policy & Standards Board,” complete with stipend-receiving members. Sens. Mackenzie, Ziccarelli, and MacKenzie argued that if the Senate didn’t like these changes, they could reverse them next year – an argument that works equally well for the last minute regulations that outgoing President Bush implemented.

As much as this site advocates for transparency, there seems like a very easy way to solve this, given the chumminess of the ASUAers. Chris Nagata and President Bruce could get together, and Nagata would propose a list of changes that he would like to see in the bylaws for his term. President Bruce would then propose the bylaw changes, speaking from his experience as a departing President, and no one would know any better. There’s no reason why EVP Anderson can’t advocate for this new standards board, and no reason why AVP Patel can’t support the changing of a misspelled “it’s.”

The debate got even more bizarro when it came time for the Senate by-law changes. Remember, these are the changes brought in by the Senator-elects, so it was odd to hear Sen. Ziccarelli argue for the bylaw changes on the basis of the current Senate’s experience – why aren’t they the ones making the changes? If Sen. Rubio is to be believed, that’s because the Senators-elect had very little say in the changes, and the discourse was largely between the executive-elects and the current Senate. When Sen. Fritze pointed out that this had been brought up as an informational item last week, to encourage discourse, Sen. Baker lashed back – “We told you we didn’t like it last week, and it’s the same as it was – because there’s only two of us who don’t like it.” Ah, the sweet sound of legislative debate – better late than never, I suppose.

Sen. Rubio was ultimately the lone dissenter against the executive-elect bylaw changes, while Sen. Baker joined him in opposing the Senate by-law changes. However, given the low Senate attendance today (seven total), it would’ve taken just one more vote against the Senate by-law changes to vote them down (Senate bylaw changes require 2/3 majority, while the other bylaws only require a simple majority).

2. SAPR Scholarships. As much as we appreciate Sen. Rubio’s standing up for the rule of law against his colleagues, it’s disappointing to see that the Diversity Emphasis Scholarship is getting closer to becoming a reality. Today, Sen. Rubio provided more details, along with the first draft of an application form [PDF]. The introductory paragraph:

As scholars in an ever changing world, exposure to new ideas and thoughts are crucial to our maturation into leaders in our respective fields.

Hey, this is a really good start – in fact, it sounds like an argument one might use to push for a module system of general education.

As a result, students whose major coursework does not fulfill this requirement must complete a Diversity Emphasis Course (as listed in your SAPR). Though it may be seemingly irrelevant to most students whose goals may not include learning new perspectives, ASUA wants to reward those students who value the opportunity to become well-rounded scholars while at the University of Arizona.

A complete list of the “Diversity Emphasis” courses can be viewed here. At risk of restating earlier arguments, it cannot be emphasized enough that all students must take this course. Taking this course is the antithesis of intellectual adventurism. In fact, for all it’s talk about ‘exposure to new ideas,’ these courses seem rather ho-hum for those who have already have quaffed the social-justice Kool-Aid  – Horowitz’s concern about the challenging of students on the left rings very true here. Wouldn’t implementing a course on “Conservative Thought: from Burke to Kirk,” really rattle the old intellectual framework?

If this scholarship is about intellectual exploration, then it seems that the course requirements for the major should not be based on a Gen-Ed requirement. Rather, the scholarship should be rewarded to a student who takes an elective course – one unrelated to his major, his minor, or his GenEd – simply for curiosity’s sake. Thus, a student majoring in biochemistry who takes a class on the Arizona constitution should be commended, as should a student majoring in philosophy who takes an introductory class on genetics. This, and not fulfilling basic requirements, is an accomplishment worthy of merit.

Yet the focus quickly shifted from academics to financial aid. Time must be taken to commend Sen. Rubio actually studying what other student governments in the Pac-10 do. I only wish that while he was reading ASUO’s scholarship policy, he was also noticing their multi-party student elections, the ones with 86 (!) candidates; or that he had noticed ASUC-Berkeley’s system of institutionalizing political parties [PDF] in his research on their scholarships. As a broader point, it would be nice to see the next class of ASUA learn far more about their peers in the Pac-10 and elsewhere than they seem to currently.

If it is financial aid that we are concerned with, then there is quite a simple remedy – abolish the Diversity Emphasis Requirement, and reduce the credits required to graduate down to 117 units. With credit hour costs of $276 (in-state) and $767 (out-of-state), knocking off this requirement would literally save students hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, far more than the currently proposed $200 scholarship for one student. Somehow, I suspect that this will never come up as an actual alternative.

3. Stipend Stand-Off. Well, not yet, anyways – today’s proposed stipend changes were only informational. Yet as ex officio Senator Seastone put it, stipends are only second to the elections code in their controversial nature. The complete list will be uploaded as soon as your author can get over to a scanner, but the major changes are as follows:

-$2,000 stipend created for the new executive marketing director.

-$1,000 pay raise for the treasurer.

-Elimination of two club advocates, putting the total number at five.

-The implementation of $100 stipends for the seven members of the Club Standards Board

-In a hilariously punitive measure, 50 percent pay cuts, totaling $1,500, for the Elections Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner.

The overall effect is minor, and results in a .01 percent increase in the salary. Right now, the reasons for these changes are coded – A, B, C, D, or the ever-mysterious *; presumably, these will be fleshed out at next weeks meeting. You also have to appreciate this, from the introduction to the proposal:

Although ASUA does not always have ideal monetary compensation for its members’ hard work, we will strive to support our members in alternative ways.

Party like it’s 1873?

Meanwhile, the Senate had to discuss their own stipend proposal – which is to say, the stipends for the Senate next year. The initial proposal was to reduce, but current-and-future Senator Stephen Wallace argued against this, reminding that he Senate candidates “spent up to $200 on their campaign materials.” I hope that he’ll have the good sense to abstain from this vote, but I’m not holding my breath.

4. Report from the Budget Battle Lines – President Bruce offered another report, with another handout, on the changes that were just recently approved by the Faculty Senate (you can read about it here). Campus Politics and the English Language gets a new addition in the form of  “program disestablishments” – by which we mean, programs that are being cut. The Wildcat has the complete list, but the most major “disestablishment” is the BA in Secondary Education; instead, these students will be majoring in their field of concentration. For example, a student who would get a BA in Secondary Education with a concentration in History will now major in History, as its own degree. Also, the Physical Education program will be disestablished. The next step for these changes is the Board of Regents, who must approve the changes at their next meeting.

Miscellania:

-Senate committees are dead. Professional Standards Committee, we hardly knew ye.

-SafeRide gave a State of the Ride address; and while they didn’t advocate for a user fee, they mentioned offhand that they maybe be contracting with local apartment complexes to expand their coverage.

-Quote of the meeting, from President Bruce: “Oh, guess what, another survey!” You can say that again.

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3 Responses

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  1. James Brooks said, on 9 April 2009 at 6:37 pm

    A = Change in office hours
    B = Cutting Position
    C = New Position
    D = Other

  2. […] and bookstore revenue? This would benefit everyone–not just those who fulfill whatever milquetoast criteria the Senate decides to dream […]

  3. […] Scholarship, approved. You can read about the proposal here, here, and here. Sen. Macchiaroli was the lone “nay” vote. Tagged with: Andre Rubio, […]


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