The Associated Student Government last Wednesday tabled a constitutional amendment that would add eight senators to the student governing body.
A smaller group of senators has been working outside of meetings in a committee format to propose changes to the current constitution, which they presented at the general assembly meeting to pass.
Although Senator Elise Leonard, one of the bill’s sponsors, has repeatedly suggested during meetings and through email that any senators with questions or ideas for discussion come to her, the process during the Feb. 7 meeting was filled with clarification, as well as different ideas from senators not at the smaller meetings.
The main issue debated in this amended centered around how these senators should be spread between departments. A census of the number of students per department determines the number of senators per position; however, senators discussed whether combining or changing the categories that each senator represents would be useful.
Senator Richard Nguyen proposed combining all music, performing arts and fine arts students under one umbrella, arguing that since the majors under each category are similar, they could be represented by a senator from any one of the arts programs.
Although many senators concurred with Nguyen in a straw poll vote, President Ben Linzey voiced multiple times that he was not comfortable with the change until he had at least spoken with the department heads of each separate department.
According to Linzey, if these programs were all combined under one senatorial position, it would be the only one in the whole Senate to encompass two separate departments, not simply multiple programs. All other positions represent one academic department, as listed by CMU.
Another point of contention in the debate regarded if the census system was the best way to decide on the number of senators. Student Trustee Beau Flores suggested that ASG follow the U.S. senatorial model and use two senators per department. Vice President Gabby Gile argued that ASG functioned more similarly to the U.S. House of Representatives, and believed the change to be unnecessary.
When Gile took a straw poll vote, however, the majority of senators sided with her to continue basing the number of senators on the census.
Finally, ASG discussed the proposed change from 26 senators to 34. While Leonard was in favor of this change, most senators seemed to view the increase as an unnecessary hassle, as it would cause an additional election.
Since many of the issues discussed were contentious, bill sponsor and Senate Majority Leader Sam Gaasch said she would not friendly-amend the bill. A friendly amendment is a change made by a bill sponsor that is not voted upon by the Senate body. Gaasch said senators could bring up these changes as formal amendments to the bill if they felt strongly about them.
Senator Jeff Vela suggested tabling the bill until next week since he felt senators were not prepared and there was still too much work to be done before voting. Leonard disagreed, stating that it was important to wrap up the amendment process and that she had given ample opportunity to anyone with questions or concerns to approach her before today.
After a tie vote on whether or not to table the bill, Gile broke the tie in favor of tabling the bill, also stating that there was too much work to do.
ASG will see both this bill, and the second constitutional amendment which they also tabled, during their Feb. 14 meeting next week.
In other action:
- ASG allocated $450 to purchase wristbands to give to students for their participation in the nomination process of the spring MavAwards. Although Nguyen suggested another item, such as stickers, ASG passed the bill as written, with one vote against and one abstention.
- ASG allocated $1,010 from RNCF to send four students from the Sociology Club to the Pacific Sociological Conference in California. Although Nguyen and Gaasch advocated for a cheaper hotel, ASG passed the bill unanimously as written.
- ASG allocated $1,930.72 from RNCF to send 24 students from the Psychology Club to the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association Conference in Denver, Colo. After a thorough presentation, no questions and no discussion, the bill passed unanimously.
- ASG appointed Dillon Paningsoro to fill the vacant position of minority senator. Senators, especially Vela, were impressed with Pangingsoro’s experience with Mesa Experience, club baseball and as a participant in the biennial process. After personal recommendations from Gaasch and Vela, Paningsoro was approved unanimously.