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Student government violates senate meeting bylaws, lacks timely updates

The bylaws, which have not always been followed, require USGT and USGD to provide timely information about their plans with students


"Politics from ASU to D.C." Illustration published on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021.

Undergraduate Student Government Tempe and Downtown have failed throughout the semester to follow its own bylaws in posting senate agendas and meeting minutes on time.

The government bodies have also been slow to update public-facing websites with contact information for sitting senators and staff. 

The website, agendas, meeting minutes and livestreams are resources for students to learn important details about what student government is doing and who is involved. 

Izaac Mansfield, USGT's government operations committee chair and a senator for the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, said he and other members of USGT have been "bothered” by the lack of updates, particularly with USGT’s website.

"I think it's a weekly occurrence to see a Slack message like, 'Hey, when is everything going to be updated on the website?'" said Mansfield, a  junior studying innovation in society and computer information systems. "I might bug (people who have the passwords) so that I can make edits myself and get that all squared away." 

While USGT members said the public relations department is responsible for updating the website, Mansfield said several people have editing capabilities.

"It's been frustrating but it's not on any one particular person," Mansfield said. "I think it's just a lack of understanding of who holds the keys and what individuals can do about it."

Marco Huerta, USGT senate president and a senior studying political science, said the transition process between administrations has "overwhelmed" USG and may have contributed to the lack of timely updates.

While The State Press has noticed these violations, it's unclear whether administrators in Associated Students of ASU or student representatives on the Supreme Court have or plan to address the violations. 

The Council of Presidents has denied their respective governments have violated bylaws this semester.

"Like any other student organization, USG and GPSA (Graduate and Professional Student Association) have been navigating how to function effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic," the Council of Presidents said in an email. "However, this has not affected our organizations' ability to follow our respective bylaws."

Senate Bill 12 amended bylaws for meeting requirements

Through the passage of Senate Bill 12 on Sept. 21, USGT amended its bylaws to accommodate senate committees that had not followed meeting requirements. 

The original bylaw required USGT's senate committees to "hold biweekly regular meetings" on weeks where there are no senate sessions. Through SB 12, senate committees now have the ability to choose between meeting biweekly or weekly.

Student Body President John Hopkins addresses the Undergraduate Student Government Senate during their senate session on ASU's Tempe campus on Tuesday, Sept. 7 2021.

Mansfield proposed SB 12 to make bylaws more considerate of the senate committee members' varying schedules. 

"A lot of our committees are currently in violation of our bylaws because they either meet once every couple weeks or they meet once every week instead of once every other week," Mansfield said at the Sept. 21 session. "This amendment is basically to loosen those restrictions to better allow the standing committees to govern themselves."

Late meeting agendas and minutes

USGT bylaws require regular session agendas to be posted 48 hours before each meeting occurs. The USGT Senate missed this deadline by a day for their Sept. 21 and Oct. 5 agendas.

Andrew Polston, USGT's senate clerk responsible for posting agendas and minutes and who is a junior studying finance, said in an email new USG members, who are recruited every semester, need time to learn how its Google Drive system works. 

Huerta said in the past, some individuals forget to move the agendas and meeting minutes from USG's private internal drive to the public one posted on its website students can access.

USGD bylaws require agendas to be posted 24 hours in advance of each regular senate session.  

In addition, USGD's Senate was a day late in posting meeting minutes for a session on Aug. 27. USGD bylaws require the operations clerk to upload meeting minutes to the public drive 72 hours after each meeting occurs.

Dane Van Wagenen, USGD's senate president and a sophomore studying medical studies, said there is no operations clerk.

USG Polytechnic only publishes its senate agendas and meeting minutes but not legislation it is considering or has passed. Agendas can be found on Sun Devil Sync since its website cannot be viewed. USG West does not have to publish any information about senate meetings until the first day of the following semester, according to its most updated bylaws

More on meeting livestreams

Students can watch livestreams of senate meetings, but only for USGT and USGW.

USGW also provides a meeting registration link despite not have having bylaws that require it.

USGT's bylaws only require senate meetings be "streamed on social media," but not recorded. USGT adheres by providing a Zoom meeting registration link on its Instagram.

Polston, the senate clerk for USGT, said in an email that the meetings can be recorded if enough people want access to them. 

On the other hand, USGD’s senate has no bylaws that require them to livestream meetings nor provide public access to those livestreams.

Correction: This story was updated on Oct. 17 at 8:00 p.m. to correct what USGD has to provide public access to and omit a sentence stating it failed to post an agenda for one of its sessions. 

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Alexis WaissPolitics Reporter

Alexis Waiss is a reporter for the politics desk. She joined the State Press in Fall 2021 and has covered state legislature, Arizona politicians, university policy, student government, the city of Tempe and stories highlighting social justice.

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