The Arizona Desert Lamp

ASUA Senate Meeting, 4 November 2009

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 5 November 2009

Agenda available here [PDF].

1. Consent Agenda. The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) got $864.95 for a benefit concert – $700 for audio/visual equipment, and $164.95 for “police security.”

More importantly for the author, the consent agenda also included a petition from a Young Americans for Liberty chapter. Unfortunately, they missed the meeting, and had their hearing for start-up funds tabled until they show up. It’s great to see that there’s a nascent YAL group on campus, but it be even better to see an active one.

2. Undergraduate Council. A year and a month ago, Professor George Gehrels came to the ASUA Senate to discuss course availability, GROs, class standing, and general education. Today, Gehrels came to discuss … course availability, GROs, class standing, and general education. Send in the snakes!

Anyways, Gehrels cited a few changes in his presentation [PDF] that have been implemented since then: the new class standing policy, the $25 drop fee after seven days, and extending WebReg through the eighth day of the semester.

Impact is “uncertain” for all these policies except for the class standing policy, which has boosted average semester enrollment for full-time students from 13.1 to 13.4 units – a fairly significant boost. It’s unfortunate, though, that Gehrels continues to sell the measure as a revenue-increasing one. Perhaps more units are being taken per semester, but, assuming that this policy does what it is supposed to, these students will stay in school for a shorter average duration. If the school really wanted to boost state funds, it could increase the total number of credit

Yet while this class standing policy encourages students to take 15 units per semester (rather than 12), another policy being implemented this spring will cap pre-registration enrollment at 16 units (Honors students get 19). Both policies are admirable by themselves, but together they serve to put students in a vise. Students taking a language class (i.e. 4 units) will be trapped into their schedule – anything outside of the most basic class shifts will become perilous.

Course shopping often gets demonized, but it ignores how useful it is as a hedge against uncertainty. The Senate rightly emphasized that this would become less and less of a problem as syllabi and book lists are made available online, but that’s hardly the only reason for a drop. Perhaps the professor rubs you the wrong way, or the 10-10:50 is too far away from your 11-12:15, or the class you really wanted just opened up.

Further, as Sen. D. Wallace pointed out, some kids are perfectly capable of taking more than 16 units. 18 units in particular is a fairly common enrollment trend. In fact, this new policy works against graduating kids in three – so basically, kids will graduate in four if nothing interrupts their “plan”; otherwise, they’ll be on the same five-year track that is the norm.

The UGC acts as a sort of de facto on-campus think tank, so it’d be nice for them to look at historical enrollment trends and drop rates across the university. With the right data, it seems that registration capacity could be inflated beyond enrollment capacity, allowing students a bit of flexibility as they perfect their schedule.

The other possibility, if the 16 unit restriction isn’t going away, would be to permit the buying/selling/trading of class seats. Of course, this effectively gives Honors students a 3-unit trading subsidy.

Gehrels “couldn’t believe” that he was discussing GROs again before the Senate, a surprising statement for a 24 veteran at the UA. The Senate deserves credit for pointing out – and this is the only time, I suspect – that there needs to be more “awareness” of the fact that GROs change nothing when it comes to graduate/professional school. Sen. Weingartner proposed putting an informational box on the GRO form, perhaps cutting down on unnecessary retakes.

Some other random, but very bad, ideas:

-A “general studies degree,” reflecting on the “interdisciplinary world we live in.” (/vomit) It wasn’t at all made clear how this would differ from the Interdisciplinary Majors that are currently offered. Sen. Weingartner offered the best hypothesis, contrasting the effective combining of three minors (ID) with course-by-course selection (GS). Yet Gehrels couldn’t say, saying that it was still in the works. Why this is deemed so necessary remains a mystery.

-Gehrels wondered openly whether the GenEd program should “do away with the writing requirement, and not have a writing component in the GenEd program at all.” One must wonder, if this holds, why we have general education in the first place.

-“Success Courses,” such as ‘how to find a major’ and ‘find a grad school for you’, presumably to be offered for credit.

Random notes:

-President Nagata will start discussions with President Talenfeld next week about the Get REAL initiative. Baseless speculation sez, “Get excited?”

-Without irony, we had back-to-back reports urging us to (a) vote for the homecoming royalty online, and (b) to go to a “mixer” with student regent finalists Friday after next, and then fill out a “survey” to indicate one’s preferences. Which is to say: UA students have a greater say over their homecoming court than they do over their representative on the Board of Regents. Can’t you feel the empowerment?


ASUA Senate Meeting, 21 October: Stayin’ Green

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 22 October 2009

Sustainability funding for the Senate. The main action item for yesterday’s Senate meeting was the approval of $895 from the Senate kitty for Sen. Katherine Weingartner’s project. The money will be used to further her campaign’s focus on sustainability and other “green” measures – in this case, providing non-disposable water bottles for the Tucson community.

Except, of course, that none of the $895 will actually be used to purchase water bottles. Instead, the money will be used to “raise awareness” of a fund-raising effort to purchase the water bottles. This includes a $300 ad in the Green Times (the latest issue of which has a page 1 article on ASUA’s sustainability program), $200 for a table on the Mall, $175 for one week of table toppers, and $120 for fliers. Sen. Weingartner mentioned that she had set up a PayPal account for donations to the project.

As far as sustainability goes, this is far from the most repulsive of measures (see some nominees here and here), although it would be nice if the money were spent actually purchasing bottles. Also, what groups exactly are being targeted for an ASUA Nalgene?

While sustainability measures are certainly more popular among The Youth than they are for the writers at this site, there is a case to be made that sustainability is second only to concerts when it comes to bureaucratic fervor. For the UA as a whole, it is probably first. Does this really reflect the preferences of ASUA’s – or the UA’s – constituency? There’s a paucity of polls (and a near absence of well-conducted polls) on student views on the matter, but there are certainly other issues – General Education, police enforcement priorities, ZonaZoo availability – that perhaps merit more focus.

Part of this reflects the difficulty entailed in making even the slightest modifications to the GenEd program, and the inability to have anything to show for one’s efforts at the end of the term. Thus, the Senate tends to move towards the provision of new products – be it the “SAPR scholarship” of Sen. Andre Rubio, the analog breathalyzers (HT: Connor) of Sen. James MacKenzie , or Sen. Fritze’s USA Today readership program – rather than focusing on structural changes in policy. This leads to the problem that Sen. Brooks alluded to when he asked, “Will the project continue past this year?”

Sen. Weingartner, slightly caught off guard, replied, “It depends,” but that of course isn’t the point. In some cases, this is a good thing: the one-year experiment of safety cards was more than enough. Yet in aggregate this leads to a sort of attention-deficit Congress, flitting from one focus to the other from year to year, marking off their resumes without setting any main direction for the university. Scholarships rise, readership programs fall, and only the provision of concerts maintains through the years.

Committee Reports. These committee reports used to come from internal committees, but in the past couple of weeks the Senate has shifted their focus towards reporting of the campus-wide committees on which they sit – the Undergraduate Council, the Campus Recreation Center Committee, etc. This is a rather underrated role of the Senate, and reflects the majority of their policy-making capabilities. A few notes:

-Sen. D. Wallace reported that the Undergraduate Council (UGC) just added eight more classes for Tier 2 GenEd eligibility.

-Sen. Atjian has urged the Health/Rec Center Fee Proposal Committee to present their proposal of “one big fee” before the Senate as whole.

Other Items of Note

-The Elections Code will be presented before the Senate on November 4. Also, the November 18 meeting will be held in the Rec Center, to unveil the new Gardens of Babylon Rec Center Expansion.

-Club Advocate Kenny Ho is now Chief Club Advocate Kenny Ho. You know what? That makes sense.

-President Nagata emphasized, perhaps in oblique response to this editorial, that the forthcoming Special Events survey would contain a question asking whether bringing a concert to campus is, in fact, a campus priority.

ASUA Senate Meeting, 16 Sep 2009: Cars With Guns

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 16 September 2009

M85 Recoilless Rifle Vehicle1. Student Regent Selections. David Martinez III, former student regent and current UA campus organizer for ASA, presented a PowerPoint presentation on “ASA 101.” The presentation included brief bios of current regents and basic historical info, although it failed to include the slide describing how to re-introduce motions to increase tuition.

EVP Fritze then described the Student Regent Selection Committee, which will choose the UA’s next student regent (who will serve in a non-voting role for 2010-2011, then as voting regent in 2011-12).  The committee consists of three ASUA members, 1 ASA member, 1 GPSC member, 1 at-large graduate student, and 1 at-large undergraduate.  Applications are due October 19.

2. Guns on Campus (in cars, in parking lots). Once again, the Senate item sounds a lot more exciting on paper than it turned in the Senate  – but a bit of background is necessary to explain why. On Tuesday, President Nagata went to the Faculty Senate, where his (admittedly inane) idea to allow students to opt out of offensive course material was greeted with “widespread laughter, grumbles and even boos.” You stay classy, Faculty Senate.

The faculty returned the favor by sending him along to ASUA with a bit of their own inanity – a resolution expressing “safety concerns” about the impact of SB 1168 [PDF], which allows for weapons to be stored in secured vehicles, at parking lots both public and private. We don’t have a copy of the resolution yet (UPDATE: See below), but Wanda Howell’s statement on the resolution makes clear its intent:  “This is not appropriate, and it’s important that we get it on the record that we resolve such.”

Ben Kalafut has addressed the bill at his blog, and as is his wont delivers a sharp take:

A hint: invisible acts do not diminish a property owner’s use rights. Storage of a firearm out of sight in a locked car is an invisible act; in ordinary circumstances the act of parking is no different whether the trunk is empty, contains a firearm, or a toaster. As I understand it, invisible harms, invisible diminishment of use, has $0 value in our legal tradition. We do not consider sin, that is to say, “Invisible Error“, an object of law.

Ben is addressing the Goldwater Institute’s odd desire to issue a tort case on the behalf of parking lot owners, but the argument applies equally to Howell’s feeling of unsafeness. Howell’s argument is even weaker – for where a property owner can at least make a case for some violation of property rights, Howell can only cite the violation of her own perceptions.

It would further be interesting to hear how this bill changes anything, behavior-wise. The bill literally only allows the transportation of non-visible, legal guns in parked cars – something which certainly occurs on a daily basis on this campus anyways. Even if it encourages a few more legal gun owners to not remove their firearm before they go to work, who would know the difference? In the end, the bill is mostly Hansonian signaling. Gun-rights supporters want to show that they love guns, and gun-control want to signal that they’re really, really concerned. The real effects of this bill do not merit the discussion that it’s received. As far as statistics go, it is a null effect – and generally, this country has a tradition of favoring liberty where the effect is nil.

Unfortunately, Nagata didn’t return their inanity with professorial dismissal – instead, he introduced the resolution to the Senate as an “item of discussion,” alluding darkly to the events at Virginia Tech, as well as the UA’s nursing school. To clarify: the item up for discussion is regarding the stance of an intra-university body on a passed law that applies to all public facilities that concerns the possession of weapons that are not visible from the outside in locked vehicles and locked compartments on motorcycles. Resolved: “Virginia Tech” will become for gun-control activists what “9/11” became for anti-terrorism activists.

It should be emphasized that Nagata was not offering the resolution as something for the ASUA Senate to pass. Today’s item was an informational item, so the discussion revolved around what exactly the ASUA Senate should do.  Sen. Quillin was eager to put forth a resolution, although it’s not entirely clear what position such a resolution would take. Other Senators were more wary – Sen. Daniel Wallace urged the Senate to look at the actual law and to discuss the issue with other students, while Sen. Weingartner wondered why exactly such an item was being discussed now, seeing how there are other issues going on at the UA. No mention was made of student referenda, and the idea of refusing to take a stance was not offered openly.

Other notes:

-The ASUA Budget is now online – at ASUA’s website! One small upload for student government, one leap forward for transparency.

-Sen. Davidson alluded to a new Spring 2010 policy of only allowing priority registration of 16 units. This could have been misheard, but if true is worrysome, considering that the Undergraduate Council has been pushing to increase the base freshman course-load from 12 to 15 units.

UPDATE: President Nagata supplied the site with a copy of the Faculty Senate resolution, which reads as follows:


The Faculty Senate of the University of Arizona would like to express its grave concern for not only the safety of faculty, but our students and staff with the Revisions to Arizona Board of Regents Policies 5-303 “Prohibited Conduct” and 5-308 “Student Code of Conduct” to allow guns on campus in locked vehicles or in locked containers on motorcycles.

“Grave concern” is even worse than Nagata let on during the meaning.

If you play the video for today’s title allusion, it’ll be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.


The Faculty Senate of the University of Arizona would like to express its grave concern for not only the safety of faculty, but our students and staff with the Revisions to Arizona Board of Regents Policies 5-303 “Prohibited Conduct” and 5-308 “Student Code of Conduct” to allow guns on campus in locked vehicles or in locked containers on motorcycles.

ASUA Senate Meeting, 2 Sep 2009: Baby, I got your money, don’t you worry.

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 2 September 2009

Source: Leech, John. "The Comic History of Rome."

Source: Leech, John. "The Comic History of Rome."

ASUA/GPSC relations – moving cautiously towards Ausgleich. The last time we compared relations between these two governments to central European power politics, relations were not exactly cordial between the Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) and ASUA. GPSC President Bieda was threatening lawsuits, and alluding to future problems down the road*:

According to Bieda, once GPSC goes under Student Affairs, ASUA has to request their permission to hire any graduate assistants.

He said this will inevitably increase tensions between GPSC and ASUA.

Right now ASUA employs about half a dozen graduate assistants and has never consulted GPSC about hiring them, which they are required to do, Bieda said. They also have five graduate students from the College of Law serving on the ASUA Supreme Court. Bieda said ASUA has also considered funding for graduate clubs even though that should have been assigned to the GPSC.

Yet with each new school year, hope springs eternal, and thus a representative from GPSC came as a “liaison” to ASUA, vowing to replace a “historically tense relationship” with a new one. At the end of the meeting, President Nagata offered similarly sentiments, citing his summertime work with current GPSC President Talenfield and declaring that “any prior history between the organizations] has been effectively squashed.”

Such sentiments are nice and promising, but they do not come without problems. For one, the two organizations are logistically butting heads – both ASUA and GPSC hold their meetings Wednesday afternoon (5 and 7:30, respectively), creating problems for future liaisons who don’t want to spend five hours in legislative meetings (although I think our commenter “Dave” has a solution for this). Beyond that, though, there’s the whole question of that “representation” thing. In effect, ASUA’s constitutional decree that it represents the entire student body makes the GPSC an illegitimate organization. Things like this need to be solved before you can start worrying about tuition and other issues of substance.

Executive operations debate – Senate accepts role as division of executive branch. The debate that began with protest from Wallace the Younger would have to finish without him – he was absent for today’s meeting, perhaps licking his wounds from last week’s bruising fight. Sen. Katherine Weingartner, however, delivered a proposal of his in abstentia – but not before offering a compromise amendment of her own. This measure consisted of two parts:

(1) All expenditures from executive operations above $1,000 must be approved by the Senate before release. An exception can be made if the spending is an “emergency,” in which case the Senate must receive notification within 24 hours, as well as an explanation of why such spending needed to be spent in such a manner.

(2) All expenditures from executive operations account must be posted online for public viewing.

These proposals received far more consensus, and passed unanimously. This probable is in direct relation to their general harmlessness. The first proposal is nice, but the loopholes can already be seen. For starters, ASUA executives can now simply move money in amounts of $999.99. The three separate $1,000 allocations by President Bruce for the ASA protests will become three $999.99 allocations, and nothing has changed.

The “emergency” provision also opens itself up to abuse, as general impatience is used to justify declaration of an”emergency.” Hopefully, this will be checked by a Senate, willing to call out executives that abuse this privilege; such a Senate does not yet exist.

Finally, the online idea is nice, but we should remember that it does not yet exist. Several times during the meeting the “check” of the online postings came up, but for the time being such a “check” is merely a theory. A nice theory, but about as effective a check on executive overreach as … well, the Senate.

Wallace the Younger’s proposal was far more controversial. Its provisions:

(1) Reduce the President’s operating budget from $7,000 to $4,500, and the vice presidents’ budgets from $7,000 to $4,000. These budgets include a $1,000 “cushion” – which seems to indicate that historically the president would only need $3,500 (this was not entirely, and corrections in the comments are appreciated as always). The operating budgets for the chief of staff and treasurer would remain the same.

(2) Allocate the remainder of these funds into a separate account, which would be overseen by the Senate. Executives seeking operating funds in addition to those already allocated would have to petition before the Senate, which would have to vote to approve the amount (presumably, a majority vote rather than 2/3, but this was not specified)

This site had proposed legislative oversight over these funds in last week’s report, so naturally much of the Senate recoiled at the idea. Yet surprisingly a faction of three Senators – Sens. Quillin, Ruiz, Weingartner – supported the proposal, defending it against the group led by Wallace the Elder. The arguments – along with their retorts – broke down into three basic issues.

Efficiency. Wallace the Elder worried about “red tape,” worrying that, “ASUA is already complicated enough as it is” and that the process would take “too long.” Sen. Brooks fretted that making the executives wait for the Wednesday meeting to request additional funds would not be as efficient (although it adds a nice twist to ‘Welfare Wednesday’).

I can’t recall anyone ever saying that the main problem with ASUA was its ineffeciency, but for argument’s sake let’s say that it is. In this case, the best thing that the Senate could do would be to vote to abolish itself, and to have its funds dispersed equally amongst the various executives. Senate meetings take up inordinate amounts of executive time, that could be used towards any number of serious work. There’s no reason that the functions of the current Senate – which is just a division of Club Resources anyway – couldn’t be dispersed among extant bodies, minus the ineffeciency of curcuitous debates.

Everybody seems to love “checks and balances” on this body, but most them seem entirely ignorant of the fact that the very purpose of checks and balances within a polity is to introduce inefficiency. This is generally seen as a good thing, but many figures over the course of history have disagreed – and further, they generally seemed to have been vindicated, although Clio has judged them unfavorably for other reasons.

Executive Love. Given this unhealthy obsession with efficiency, the slavish deference that legislators continue to show towards their executives becomes even more troubling. Wallace the Elder declared his “love” for the Dauphiness three executives, arguing that they were fiscally responsible and thus required no additional checks. Sen. Yamaguchi echoed him, saying that, “We know that they’ll be fiscally responsible.”  Yet as Sen. Quillin pointed out earlier, “We can’t rely on the fact that we’re always going to have fiscally responsible officers.” Contra Sen. Yamaguchi, given recent memory one would be inclined to draw the opposite conclusion.

It is very possible to let the specter of Last Smash Platinum FAIL loom too heavily over the body, but if there is any lesson that should be learned. The system that allowed for the concert to happen was not marked by inefficient debating bodies, but by a hyperefficient (and, by definition, anti-democratic) executive cabal that effectively turned a deliberative body into a booking agency. We’ve remarked before on the ahistorical nature of university affairs, but it’s still astonishing that the two-term Senator seems to have entirely forgotten what, exactly, happened last year.

Fairness. A bizarre case was made by Sens. Davidson and Yamaguchi alleging that the potential of an emergency in one executive’s department would unfairly take operating funds from the other executives. Ignoring that this money isn’t an inheritance, isn’t this kind of the point? As Sen. Ruiz pointed out, if this did happen under the current system, the funds would be “unfairly” distributed from, say, the EVP’s oper. budget to the President’s – leaving the EVP with less money than before.  Under the new proposal, the exact thing would happen – only that the power of transfer would lie in the Senate.

It’s also odd that the current operating budgets – which, if Wallace the Younger’s numbers are right, are a few thousand dollars more than necessary – are being held as the paragon of distribution. Which God descended from on high and inscribed on Mt. Lemmon, “THOU SHALT ALLOCATE 7,000 US DOLLARS FOR EACH EXECUTIVE OPERATING BUDGET.” Hell, one might even call it inefficient. Moving some of the funds to a ‘pool’ of money would result in fact result in a more efficient allocation of resources – those programs that needed the funds the most would receive them.

Legislative Overreach. Given the last three arguments, it’s not surprising that the moment a Senator dares to assert any authority over the executive branch, the handwringers come out. This was illustrated beautifully when Treasurer Harris, asked about his meeting with Sen. Daniel Wallace by Sen. Quillin, noted (to Sen. Quillin’s surprise) that no such meeting had occured – Wallace had gone directly to Gail Tanner, ASUA’s full-time business advisor. Pretty cheeky, as they say across the pond, but not out-of-line. Wallace the Elder, however, was astonished by his younger colleague’s failure to show deference, using it as a rhetorical tool during a heated back-and-forth with Sen. Weingartner (which, amusingly enough, elicited a “tsk-tsk” from EVP Fritze, who offered her disapproval of his conduct as an “etiquette tip”). Considering that Wallace the Younger left the treasurer’s budget untouched, I can’t imagine that the blood is too bad; but the reaction to his action was telling of the dotishness of the legislative branch.

At any rate, this was the ultimately winning argument against the proposal, and initially went something like this: Suppose the president were to spend her $4,500 operating budget, and needed more money from the Senate. Wouldn’t they have to come back each time they wanted to spend something, like, to use Sen. Atjian’s example, a $30 stapler? No, no, protested Sen. Weingartner – we would allocate the money in large sums. Sen. Sly Dog Seastone, resembling an old Platonist who twistedly keeps returning the Academy long after the Dadaist takeover, went in for the syllogistic kill. This, he declared, is no better than the current system – after all, you’re just giving them thousands of dollars, with no idea of where the money will ultimately end up. Either you overregulate, or it’s pointless.

This is novel, but it ignores much of the discussion from last week revolving around transfers. Much of this budget is used by the executives to transfer lumps of money to divisions under them that need it. Contrary to the ‘stapler theory’ of allocation, divisions that run over don’t need to have each and every additional expense approved – instead, the executive allocates, say, $1,000. Is this irresponsible? It would be, if these funds were simply rubberstamped. Far more likely is the idea that these transfers are contingent on some sort of proposal, along with an explanation of why all the original funds were spent before the end of the year. While the executive doesn’t have an exact idea of what will be spent, he does have a general sense of where the funds are going, and further he knows how funds were spent in the past.

So it is with this proposal. In effect, the Senate would gain the transfer power over this small pool of funds. Much as divisions under executives, executives would have to go before the Senate, armed with a presentation of how the original money was spent, and how future money will be spent. The only thing that this reallocation of money does is put some of the discretionary power back in the hands of the legislature. It is an extremely modest move towards giving the Senate a bit of the “power of the purse” that most legislatures possess.

Yet the Senate, averse to any further responsibility than they already have, voted to keep the current amounts and to reject the Wallace proposal, by a vote of 6-3 (with D. Wallace absent). A toast goes out to Sens. Quillin, Ruiz, Wallace the Younger, and Weingartner for attempting to make the Senate relevant.

Southwest Leadership Conference – Fun for the Political Class! Unfortunately, this wasn’t the full ASA rundown that was expected, and thus the SAFRA drinking game ended before it started. Instead, the ASA directors hawked the Southwest Leadership Conference, and reminded Senators and other ASUA members that for a limited time, their registration fee would only cost $25 – half of the normal student price! After all, the conference “is designed for student governments and campus student leaders.” Look, defending internal stasis while agitating for change can be exhausting – and there’s no better way to kick back than a “Lobbying” workshop at the Mariott.

* – Any Wildcat staffers reading this: we love the site makeover, but this archive problem is really a drag. We need these articles, bad. For now, readers who want to read the entire article should follow this link, which should lead to a cached version of the article.

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?

ASUA Senate Forum: Some Fear, Mostly Loathing from the Kiva Room

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 25 February 2009

Democracy, in the bathroom“. . . and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

“There’s been great research on your platforms.”

-Jessica Anderson

And so, for two hours, we went.

The format for the event was as follows: each candidate was given a two-minute statement, to talk about themselves and their platforms. The panel – consisting of Executive Vice President Anderson, among others – then asked two follow-up questions. Finally, if necessary, up to two questions were taken from the audience.

The platforms bear further looking into than a single post can bear; already, this one stretches on too far.


Mr. Atjian has big ideas about “culture”; so big, in fact, that he declared that, “I want to spread culture, however that may be.” Can we look forward to an Article 301 in the ASUA Constitution? In reality, though, this seems to be somehow tied in to the idea of “enhancing” the various cultural centers on campus; yet, as he himself said, “I want to spread culture. . . culture can be anything.” Mark one more down in the relativist column.

His second major idea involves reducing the price of books by requiring professors who “use less than five percent” of their textbooks to post the material online. He summed up his idea in the follow-up question when he explained that, “It’s still an idea in the making.” Indeed.


Daniel Wallace attacks the general education system, and proposes replacing two required GenEd units with “assessment” units — an “information resources” and a “critical thinking” assessment. This policy is not that proposed by Dr. Gail Burd a few Senate dispatches ago, which has been scrapped due to a lack of funding. These may or may not be optional credits. Another option includes allowing more classes of one’s major to count for GenEd credit, which somewhat defeats the overall purpose of a general education.

Mr. Wallace also proposes to encourage “ASUA outreach and transparency,” but his proposals seem to involve a good deal of outreach and publicity without even paeans towards genuine transparency.


Mr. Jones started with a focus on the failed CatsRIDDE, zeroing in on the “unacceptably” high drunk driving rate of nine percent (of what? Students? Tucson-wide?). He also freely admitted that, so far as fighting drunk driving, “it’s not really within the Senate’s jurisdiction to do this.” He proposes to mitigate the problem by sending out a campus-wide email, “like E-CHUG,” with a necessary waiver to participate in the program. He also supported sustainability efforts on a “workshop” level, increasing “awareness” of ASUA’s Legal Services, and reiterated his stand against new fees.

Naturally, his stand against fees drew the opprobrium of the ASUA cognoscenti (as usual, a majority of the audience at this event). EVP Anderson questioned how a program like CatsRIDDE could be formed without new fees, while candidate Adam Back wondered about “combating inflation.” While I kept for hoping for support of spending cuts or an ASUA-sponsored kidnapping of Ben Bernanke, instead there were reminders that the fee pledge is ultimately a “one-year deal,” what with the expiration of his term.


As questionable as sustainability measures may be, Ms. Weingartner at least knows what she is talking about when it comes to the issue – a marked deviation from the mean. However, Ms. Weingartner failed to offer a good reason why she should be on the Senate, a body which deals with many issues completely unrelated to sustainability, rather than striving for, say, chair of the ASUA Sustainability Board.


Yes, it is true – the first policy in Mr. Back’s platform is “hugs.” Yet he also encouraged reviving the mysteriously killed liaison position between ASUA and RHA, and spending more money on the “more environmentally friendly” SafeWalk.

Mr. Back also described a particularly malevolent trend seeping into the UA: “We’ve been getting so many emails from special interest groups. . . I’m not going to sign your petition, I’m not going to fill out your survey — I’m going to talk to you.” Interest groups? The horror!

Bonus quote: “I went to Europe for a year. I learned what it was like to be discriminated against for no reason at all.”


Mr. Hudson and his friends are bored by the various aspects of on-campus life at the UA, and want to increase funding for programs that encourage engagement – he cites a visit to Mt. Lemmon as an example. Mr. Hudson and his friends also seem infuriated by the change in the GRO policy, which they have deemed “ludicrous” and “absolutely horrible.” He admits upon questioning that he hasn’t really gotten a chance to look at the actual policy, but that he “will still fight it, either way.”


The agéd one provides insight to these young bucks as he describes his first term as Senator: “I realized that a lot of my platforms from last year were unfeasible.” He cites the failure of his proposal to broadcast classes online, but fails to mention at all his proposal for an ASUA-sponsored anatomy class, with cadavers.

Questions for Mr. Wallace revolved around what he had learned, but he left us with only a proposal for a “scholarship” for incoming students and a one-word vision of “outreach.”


Mr. Yamaguchi wants to increase the proportion of tuition funds that go towards financial aid. His fellow candidate Aaron Elyachar asks from whence these funds will come, which led Mr. Yamaguchi to mention that the relationship between financial aid and tuition must be ‘give-and-take.’ How the current percentage basis is not a “give-and-take” system – the ‘taking’ of more tuition leads to greater total ‘giving’ in financial aid – was not fully explained.

He assures us that he “did a lot of research to see what [he] can do about the financial crisis.” We can only hope that he read his Hayek and von Mises!

Finally, Mr. Yamaguchi proposes to expand food services, as well as providing “printed nutrition tables.” When asked where the funds for such charts would come from, Mr. Yamaguchi pointed toward the democratically-chosen, wisely allocated, student controlled Student Services Fee, and its anticipated rise.


Mr. Klenke supports increased funding for the Women’s Resource Center, the forthcoming ‘Unity Center’, and the CSIL. Where these funds would come from is not immediately clear. He also expressed disappointment on behalf of the WRC and the Pride Alliance that they were not “brought to the table” for negotiations on the Unity Center.


Ms. Evans supports the creation of the Unity Center, as well as increasing its “awareness.” She also supports the formation and/or reorganization of a “social justice library.” While clearly spelling out that her favorite social justice program is A-Town, she fails (along with other SJ affiliates) to provide a concise, readily debatable definition of ‘social justice.’ (Consider this an invitation, commenters.)


Ms. Davidson proposes to expand community service from the UA by instituting a “Big Sister, Big Brother type” of program, and also proposes to “revamp” student orientation. To reform orientation, she would make the event more ‘student-centered’, with smaller classroom settings replacing a larger Day 1 orientation environment. How much it would cost hiring new orientation guides to fill these rooms was not made immediately apparently.


A “proud T-Loc,” Mr. San Angelo seeks to ensure that ZonaZoo “not be cut down.” As a rugby team member, he urges that club sports need more awareness. There needs to be a solution to weekend transportation problems; but “whatever solutions we come up with, they need to not be costly.”

Yet Mr. San Angelo’s most curious remark came in discussing the end result of the student protests: “I think that it is important for all students to have representatives on high priority issues, and that means not increasing student fees.” Mr. San Angelo, if you truly mean this lofty campaign rhetoric, then it sounds like the Arizona Student Fee Protection Pledge is right up your alley.


Mr. Brooks wants to increase student involvement in clubs, focusing on encouraging students who miss the first few meetings of a given club to attend anyways. He also wants to cut down on the cost of textbook prices, by encouraging, among other things, “putting things up on D2L.” Mr. Brooks offered no insight into the cost of electronic licensing versus book purchase.

Mr. Brent Hanson, current ASUA treasurer, asked how Mr. Brooks would bridge the gap for dealing with people “superior to you” with regards to the book issue. Unfortunately, he neglected to ask President Bruce, who was sitting next to him, that same question.


Mr. Slater wants to transform the UA in an “eco-friendly way,” as well as to increase the healthier food options on campus. As the licenses for current private restaurants expire, Mr. Slater wants to replace these with healthier options, though there was no consideration of potential changes in revenue and cost of items. He also floated the idea that “Trader Joe’s might come in.”


To improve class availability, Mr. Searles proposes shortening the class registration periods (presumably, the priority registration periods) in order to prevent the server from being swamped; however, he could not exactly answer Mr. Atjian’s concern that such a proposal might not actually make the process better.

Mr. Searles also proposed to “make people more aware” of the services that ASUA had to offer.


Mr. Bral’s first program is to institute a bike program on campus, “like Paris and DC have.” Before proceeding further on this platform, however, the ultimate result of the Paris bike program bears further consideration. Mr. Bral, after what can only be described as a momentary lapse of memory, was reminded by a question from the panel of his other major proposal: encouraging the creation of a website detailing the impact of state budget cuts in plain English.


Accentuating his points, Mr. Davidoff drove home the idea that the UA should host an outdoor music festival on the Mall. “Tucson is the UA community,” he claimed, and said that this proposed festival should draw not only big names, but respected indie and local groups as well.

He also proposed a Student Rewards Program, which would give some form of compensation – gift certificates, Meal Plan money, etc. – for achieving a certain GPA. However, after being reminded that student GPAs are strictly confidential information, he replied that, “If I don’t have access, I won’t be able to jump [over the hurdles]. I don’t really know.”


Ms. Godfrey, channeling the spirits of ASUA Pulse ghosts past, proposes a “Be Heard” program, which would play off the existing online suggestion box and become so wildly popular that it would be considered as important an online activity as WebMail and D2L.

She also wants to increase community service, with ASUA providing institutional backing for campus-wide community service events…or something.


Mr. Elyachar wants to improve undergraduate retention by five percent within three years (in spite of his one-year term limit). He also proposes to create a “partnership” between ASUA and SafeRide, even though SafeRide is already a program directly under the jurisdiction of ASUA. This would be accomplished by appointing an ASUA “liaison” which would “help SafeRide achieve its goals.”

Finally, sustainability. Don’t act like you’re surprised.


Mr. Quillin asserts that “transparency in terms of tuition dollars is crucial,” and that “positive interaction” between organizations is essential. More importantly, he asserts during a lengthy explanation as to why he chose to run for Senate, that the ASUA Senate “can do whatever they want.” Long live Leviathan?


Ms. Bratt supports the Unity Center, and sustainable measures as well. Yet while Ms. Weingartner approaches the issue from a technocratic standpoint, Ms. Bratt would instead prefer to “mobilize the students,” a phrase that she used repeatedly in her presentation.

Both Ryan Ruiz and Monique Villalobos were absent from the event.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Dead Air

ASUA Election 2009 Candidates

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 13 February 2009

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 ASUA Election Candidates!

A few notes here:

1. Searches for both Ryan Ruiz and Daniel Wallace yield multiple entries on a search of the UA site. If either of these candidates could confirm their email addresses in the comments, we’d be most appreciative.

2. There’s also a bit of confusion over who is or is not a write-in candidate, as far as the Administrative Vice President and President positions are concerned. We’ll have more on that in the coming days.