TUSG Senate meeting violates bylaws with lack of announcement

The Tempe Undergraduate Student Government's meeting was called into question when it was improperly advertised on their website

Tempe Undergraduate Student Government violated at least one USG bylaw before its most recent Senate meeting, held on Tuesday, Nov. 21, when the Senate failed to provide proper notice of the meeting on its website.

Article 5 of USG Bylaws state that the Senate must give a minimum of 24-hour notice via “social media outlets, updates on the USG website, and through The State Press.” Article 5 also requires that all regular session meeting “time, location, and general structure must be published on the USG Website.” 

As of the Nov. 21 meeting day, the previous Nov. 14 meeting was still listed as the next upcoming assembly, and TUSG failed to post the date change on their website. The Facebook page for TUSG had the meeting scheduled for Nov. 28, and their Twitter did not have a tweet informing constituents of the meeting being moved forward. These failures are violations of Article 5.6.

The regularly scheduled Senate meeting was moved forward a week to accommodate a special event that would be held on Nov. 28. The agenda for the meeting was the “SECOND SPECIAL SESSION" and could be found through the TUSG Senate documents, linked through their website. 

TUSG updated the agenda at the start of the meeting, calling it the seventh regular session. 

TUSG has defended the session as a regularly scheduled meeting that was moved forward a week, and they said the meeting was properly advertised as it was announced in the two meetings prior, and a reporter from The State Press had attended the meeting. While admitting that their website and social media did not announce the meeting, they do not believe they violated bylaws.

TUSG Senate President Breonn Peoples said in an email that the meeting was not a special session and upheld that bylaws were followed.

“The meeting tonight is not a special session but there was a miscommunication with our senate clerk who thought it was a special session,” Peoples said in the email. “Special sessions are used to handle pressing matters outside of our normal operations but that this is a meeting with regular order and regular business just within changed date.”

Special session or not, all meeting times and locations must be announced on the USG website, according to the bylaws. Some USG representatives, however, have questioned if the meeting was a special session, which would add further bylaw violations.

USG members also called into question the failures to post the meeting time on the website or social media.

Case Smith, Senate president for USG Downtown, who first alerted The State Press to the meeting, maintained that the meeting was illegal in nature. 

Smith said his biggest issue was a lack of transparency for constituents directly affected by election code, which was a main topic of the meeting. 

“Our biggest point is just the public, they need to be a part of this ‘cause every campus is affected by (election codes),” Smith said. “The public really needs to be made aware of this and to their own bylaws. They have not done that.” 

Peoples contested that the announcements at prior meetings, on Nov. 14 and Oct. 31, were enough of an announcement from TUSG. Smith contested that while he was able to find prior meeting’s minutes with the announcement, it was not well enough advertised for the average constituent. 

“I’m the USGD Senate president. If I was just a normal person I wouldn’t have been able to find this information,” Smith said. “I found the information only because (Peoples) told me about it.”

TUSG President Brittany Benedict agreed with Peoples and said the error was human in nature, but admitted that the meeting should have been posted on the website.

“Anything that happens in (TUSG) falls under me,” Benedict said. “Because it didn’t get communicated on our website it falls under me.”

Despite the error, Benedict feels that bylaws were not violated. 

Ryan Boyd, former USGD vice president of policy, said the meetings time and location need to be clearly advertised, whether it is a special session or not. 

“As a new student ... if I just saw this agenda, I don’t know where that meeting is and when that meeting is,” Boyd said. “It doesn’t matter if that (meeting) is a regular session or not, this is a problem.” 

TUSG also held a special session meeting on Sept. 21, which was not announced through The State Press or social media. Peoples said the meeting was announced through several avenues, but did not answer for the violations in Article 5.2A.

Peoples said she was unavailable for an interview leading up to the meeting and declined to comment after the meeting ended. 

Correction: Due to a sourcing error, Case Smith’s title was incorrectly stated as Senate president and external affairs chairman for USG downtown. Smith is only Senate president at this time.

Reach the reporters at maatenci@asu.edu and jospino@asu.edu or follow @mitchellatencio and @joashospino on Twitter.

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