USG almost got sued – here's why

ASU's student governing bodies are questioned on their transparency

ASU’s Undergraduate Student Government groups were scrambling to give clarity on Wednesday as many meeting minutes, budgets, bylaws and recent legislation had not been promptly updated for the current school year.

The previous USG Downtown president and current health innovation senior, Jackson Dangremond, recently contacted the USG Council of Presidents expressing that he would file a lawsuit against them if they did not update their respective platforms within the week. In response, the COP uploaded its meeting minutes onto the USGD website. 

“On the legal side, you are breaking the ASASU constitution and on the pragmatic side, you are failing to live up to your desires to be a more transparent and accountable student government,” Dangremond said in his email to the COP.

This has been an ongoing problem with USG. Reports from The State Press as early as 2010 show how USG has not been effectively uploading their meeting minutes. 

According to the ASASU constitution, the COP is required to release their meeting minutes onto either a public drive that is easily accessible by students, or uploading them onto their official websites within 24 hours of their approval. 

Read more: Students sue student government for not posting meeting minutes

“It’s important for USG to be as transparent as possible,” Dangremond said. "Government transparency is important to its constituents as they control many aspects of student life."

Aly Perkins, president of USGD and senior studying public service and public policy, said that often times, the COP does not upload their meeting minutes quickly because the content discussed in those meetings may be sensitive. 

“For example, if there’s a public safety issue … it wouldn’t be a good idea necessarily for us to talk about it without causing fear,” Perkins said.

The implications around a topic discussed in a meeting that may not be fully developed before getting released to the public may have more downfalls than positive aspects, she said. 

Complicating the matter further, USG West and USG Polytechnic have been struggling to overcome technical issues with their websites, preventing them from properly uploading meeting minutes and other pertinent information. 

“The West campus doesn’t pay for their domain. It’s through ASU, so they often have to work through bureaucracy, and it can take several weeks to get things posted ... For us, it can take several days to get things updated due to the nature of the technology we have and the working schedules of our directors,” Allison Sorgeloos, USG Tempe president and senior studying education, said. 

After the threat of a lawsuit dawned upon the executives of USG, many took action immediately. USGD ensured it had everything uploaded and is now even the impromptu host of the COP’s meeting minutes. USGT has uploaded past meeting minutes and legislation to its website and public drive, and the budget has been approved and uploaded as well. 

However, USGW and USGP still have not uploaded their recent meeting minutes on OrgSync or their respective websites. 

However, in an email Alexander Haw, USGW president and senior political science major, said that USGW was not violating any rules because their bylaws require them to upload meeting minutes by the next semester. 

“In accordance with our bylaws and to maintain transparency, ‘The Senate meeting minutes are published digitally on Sun Devil Sync and the USGW website by midnight on the first day of the following semester,'” he said in an email.

This would technically not allow grounds to file a lawsuit against USG.

The question that now follows is whether USG will continue to follow their bylaws requiring clarity and transparency under threat of a lawsuit. For an overlying organization that controls many aspects of student’s daily lives, they have a lot at stake.

“I really do appreciate having constituents like Jackson … who really work to hold us accountable and ensure that we are being as transparent as possible,” Sorgeloos said.


 Reach the reporter at  mlshuman@asu.edu or follow @mackenzieshuman on Twitter.

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.