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Tempe USG, GPSA violate bylaws regarding meeting agendas, minute postings

Tempe USG and GPSA broke their bylaws regarding the posting of agendas before meetings and the posting of minutes after meetings.

Cristian Torres, USG Tempe Senate President calls the first USG meeting of the 2016 year to order at the MU Union Stage.
Cristian Torres, USG Tempe Senate President calls the first USG meeting of the 2016 year to order at the MU Union Stage.

Members of Tempe Undergraduate Student Government and the Graduate Student and Professional Student Association left students in the dark early this semester by failing to post required information regarding the meetings — leaving legislation passed during meetings challengeable. 

Tempe USG violated student government bylaws that mandate the organization to announce government meetings and post meeting agendas at least 72 hours prior to each meeting's start time. 

Before their first regular session, members of Tempe USG did not provide 72 hours of time for the public to review Senate Bills 02-13, which cover subjects such as confirmations of USG positions and funding approvals.

A regular session meeting is put on by the USG senate in which senators vote on University-related issues. 

Tempe USG approved its first nine senate bills during regular sessions.

The student government only posted senate bill 01 prior to the 72 hour mark, which was the confirmation of a senate president. Tempe USG put off senate bills 10-13 — mostly funding approvals —  until a later meeting. 

Brandon Bishop, Tempe USG president, said the mishaps could be chalked up to a lapse in communication. 

"It was between our human and technology error in the sense that our website was a little harder than we are expecting, and we also had our USG meeting that weekend … and didn't have any cell service most of the time," Bishop said. "Once we realized that happened, every senate meeting afterward, including our special meeting, we made sure all students were aware of what was on the agenda and what we were discussing."

Tempe USG posted senate bills 02-05 online just five hours before the meeting. They also published the title of Senate Bill 06, the confirmation of Directors for the Department of Policy, without any further content detailing the bill.

Christian Torres, Tempe USG senate president, is responsible for all Tempe USG legislatures. He said a change in platforms facilitated the student government's failure to post agendas.

"USGT tries to remain as open and accountable as possible, especially in regards to the activities of the senate," Torres said in a statement. "The failure of this specific agenda to be posted 24 hours in advance was due to a human and technology error, not malicious intent."

Torres also said in the statement that the members did not realize the agenda in question was not open to the public.

"As we are in the middle of a transition from Dropbox to Google Drive," the statement read. "We mistakenly believed the agenda was accessible to the public and only noticed the error until several hours before the meeting." 

Dave Wells is a political science professor at ASU and has run for school board office. In his experience, he said failure to adequately post agendas on time could result in any piece of legislation being nullified. 

"If they're not (posting agendas on time), and they take an action during their meeting and somebody disagrees with that action, they could provide a case to the Supreme Court of the student government, and if they have evidence of that, the Supreme Court could consider every action void," Wells said.

Ryan Boyd is a former vice president of policy at USG Downtown and has been particularly outspoken about the issue. He filed a suit against Associated Students of Arizona State University last spring regarding a failure to post minutes.

"From a basic legal perspective, it's illegal," Boyd said. "Those bills should not have been voted on. If Tempe ignores this and continues to ignore this, it is plaintiff for an adversarial court case."

Read more: USG Polytechnic, West consistently break bylaws by failing to post minutes

GPSA failed to post minutes for their Aug. 19 meeting breaking a bylaw which requires minutes of a meeting be available on the GPSA website within 14 calendar days of a meeting.

GPSA President Andrew Waldron apologized for the violation and said the organization has addressed the issues.

"As a leadership team and representatives of GPSA, we strive for transparency and welcome constructive feedback from our community," Waldron said. "All of the raised concerns have been addressed and management systems have been double-checked to ensure future documentation is provided within the required time frames."

Boyd also commented on the matter and said students aren't given a chance to properly get involved with student government when they can't review what legislation the government has voted on. 

"The issue with it is that GPSA not having an agenda means that no student who is represented by the GPSA actually has the ability to make plans to attend the meetings," Boyd said. "It literally gives somebody a chance to get involved with their government, because otherwise, they're gambling whether or not they're wasting a few hours of their day or actually making an impact and showing up."

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