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Students sue student government for not posting meeting minutes

Not posting these minutes creates a lack of transparency in student government, the suit claims

Students pass Memorial Union

Students pass the outside dining area by Memorial Union on the ASU Tempe campus on Sept. 14, 2017.

A complaint has been filed against the Associated Students of ASU Council of Presidents claiming that the Council has neglected to publicly post the minutes of their meetings.

The Council of Presidents, which is made up of the president of each student government branch, is required by its constitutional bylaws to post the minutes of each of its meetings

Ryan Boyd, the former USGD Vice President of Policy, drafted the complaint. Boyd said the issue is one of transparency. 

If the minutes aren’t posted, Boyd said, then the rest of the student government and student body aren’t privy to the reasoning behind decisions that the COP makes, such as the health fee increase.

“The Council of Presidents makes every single major decision that affects students,” Boyd said. “If you don’t have any ability to go and see what your student government is saying then how can we say ‘yeah my president represented me well'? You can’t, because it’s behind closed doors.” 

Boyd said if student government leaders don't post minutes, students aren’t able to see what’s happening in USG and USG members aren’t able to see if students are engaging with what student government discusses.

USGT President Brittany Benedict said it was a mistake to not post the minutes as they are public documents. 

“So it is outside students keeping us accountable for the work that we are doing,” Benedict said. “We did work to get those posted because we want to be as transparent with you all as possible.” 

Benedict said the minutes weren't posted as a result of miscommunication between student government members and advisors. 

“One of the things that we have been talking about in Council of Presidents is because this just came up, we don’t want this to happen again,” Benedict said. 

She said the complaint brings problems to the council's attention so it can both fix the problem and prevent it in the future.

USGD President Jackson Dangremond said having minutes is key to having a transparent student government that accurately informs the students. 

He said during his first term he did his part to keep the students updated on the dealings of the council of presidents. 

“Having minutes is important for a few reasons, one of the first being transparency,” Dangremond said. “It’s important that students know what’s going on with student government and the members of student government.”

Dangremond said he needed help during his second semester writing the minutes because he needed to focus on the conversation during Council meetings and it was difficult to do both. 

“I did my part in keeping in Council of Presidents meetings updated on the downtown’s website and also assisting in making sure that they were updated throughout the university,” Dangremond said. 

The complaint was signed late Wednesday night by Yasmin Alvarado, the USGD College of Public Service and Community Solutions senator. 

The Council of Presidents responded Thursday morning and said it will adhere to actions requested in the complaint. They intend to establish a COP clerk position that will record minutes, publish agendas and report any constitutional violations to the USG Supreme Court.

They said the COP agendas will be posted 24 hours before the meeting and minutes will be posted 24 hours after as they "seek to become a more transparent branch of ASASU." They will update policies to become clearer especially concerning the tuition and fees discussion. 

"As we get into election season and as we make these transitions after elections with our successors, we can make them aware to not make the same mistakes that we did so they can move forward and not have something like this happen in the future," Benedict said. 

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