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ASUO Senate Rules Cmte. Resolves to Make Resolutions

ODE reporter Nick Wilbur reports that the Student Senate Rules Committee decided today last Thursday to add language to the Senate rules which would enable the body to pass a resolution “when it is in the direct interest of the overwhelming majority.” (The majority of students, not senators, according to Wilbur’s story.) This will essentially allow the Senate to pass resolutions condemning/supporting whatever the hot button political topic of the day is, thereby wasting their time and our student funds. I was unable to make the meeting, so I’m left with two questions:

  1. How will the Student Senate determine how the “overwhelming majority” of students feels about a certain subject? Will the Senate conduct massive student polls or will senators simply divine how the proles they represent feel?
  2. Does the Senate really expect resolutions on issues such as Iran’s nuclear ambitions and textbook prices to have any effect or serve any purpose other than political masturbation?

As it is, the Senate essentially serves two purposes: to rubberstamp special requests from student groups and coordinating with other ASUO committees. While this may feel limiting, this year’s Senate has nevertheless proven that it can already waste three hours of its time each meeting arguing over pedantical nonsense. Our senators should restrain themselves from expanding their powers and spend their time doing what they do best: granting special requests, making speeches about how proud they are of the Senate, and jockeying for position in the upcoming elections.

UPDATE: The ODE’s website confuses the hell out of me. The story appeared online today, the date says yesterday, and “Seinor News ReporterWilbur’s story says “Thursday.”

  1. Tony says:

    Respectful banter. Great site. -Tony L.

    http://oregonrepublicanleague.blogspot.com

  2. Ian says:

    I meant “exhaustive” in a good way because I like verbosity, dammit. Don’t turn into Glenn Reynolds on us.

  3. Nick says:

    I don’t know how to respond any other way. There’s details that can’t be omitted. Next time I’ll try and be more brief.

  4. Ian says:

    Nick,

    Your exhaustive reply is greatly appreciated. A proposal for an Iran resolution could be an interesting test of how the Senate (not to mention the Con Court) judges the two qualifiers of “direct interest” and “overwhelming majority.”

  5. Nick says:

    It seems you’ve gone off topic a bit, but I’ll address the points you made about “direct interest” and “overwhelming majority.” Just a reminder, though: I’m not advocating this. The great part of being in my position is that I don’t have to. On with the chlorophyle.
    Direct interest and overwhelming majority weren’t meant to be separated. They are either both or neither, as I understand it. Wally Hicks thought that both of these terms, including their modifiers, were essential. He thought that if the Senate is going to have the authority to make issue resolutions (as opposed to budget resolutions) it should do so responsibly. You are absolutely right that it can be argued that killing Bush, banning homosexuality or creating a KKK group on campus are beneficial to the “cultural and physical development of the University.” But that is for three governing bodies to decide: Student Senate, Rules Committee and Constitution Court.
    Further, Senator Kyle McKenzie said that the two-thirds majority rule change will make it so that MORE of the Senate will have to be in support.
    When deciding what resolutions are in the direct interest of the overwhelming majority, senators said they will look to see how many people are offended by this. If it’s 51 percent, McKenzie said, that means that 49 percent could be furious. Now it’s not rocket surgery. These are elected officials who decide where several million dollars of student fees should go. If Senator Axelrod is correct in saying “we’re all smart people,” then the required debate will likely throw out resolutions that senators think are too far beyond a “direct impact” of students. Also, the Senate president can block items from being discussed if she thinks they are not germane, whether it be resolutions or DPS audits. The Iran resolution could pass, but we’ve already seen several senators opposing it because it would piss off or “disenfranchise” constituents. The other point is that it’s not gone unnoticed that there are no Muslim or Middle Eastern signatures on the petition.
    Lastly, Executive has expressed no interest in this issue, personally or as a body. And so far this year the Executive and the Senate played nicely together.
    Talk to Wally Hicks if this isn’t clear why the resolutions section was modified. He was highly skeptical, still may be a little. But he, too, was persuaded.

  6. Meghann says:

    No you don’t.

  7. ian says:

    The only person messing with Nick Wilbur is the ODE’s website updater. I just wish I could go to every Student Senate and PFC meeting.

  8. Meghann says:

    Yeah, that’s a requirement for all auxillaries. Of course, that doesn’t stop the University from taking funds from an auxillary and doing whatever they want with it. The only auxillary they really do that to is Housing. Housing has long been seen as a “stationary cash cow” for the University, according to past and present Housing officials.

  9. Timothy says:

    Meghann: Well then, I stand corrected.

    Let them have their bread and circus.

    That fact changes the discussion over to the more theoretical world of whether or not the University should be in the housing business at all.

  10. Meghann says:

    “Why should the rest of the student body, being that University Housing doesn

  11. Timothy says:

    They do have the same opportunity: the university is there, you can go to it and pay them like anybody else.

    Why should the rest of the student body, being that University Housing doesn’t have a seperate budget as far as I know, be in the business of subsidizing the housing of some folks just because they have kids? There are non-university apartments in Eugene, people live in them all the time, and many are a better deal than “family housing”. I really don’t see why the Uni should be providing them in addition to their student housing. Honestly, they should contract out dorms to private-party vendors, or use the buildings for teaching space/arson experiments.

  12. Gabrielle says:

    I think that if the university keeps any student housing they should provide some family housing. The current student body may be mostly “traditional” students but there are more and more folks heading either to or back to school after an extended break. Living with 18 year olds with a husband or kids is a little ridiculous. Even if you’re 30 or 40 you should have the same opportunity as an 18 year old. Whether the university should keep student housing is more an intellectual excercise than debatable issue. Without a replacement property in hand I’m prone to throw in with the conspiracy that the money is to go to the olympic trials.

  13. Andy says:

    lol, but then how would all the freshman loose their inhibitions with alchohal and random hook-ups?

  14. Timothy says:

    Or what if it gets used to better the university some other way. Fuck subsidized housing, the university shouldn’t even have dorms, frankly.

  15. ian says:

    Tim,

    I don’t think the University should be in the housing business in the first place. But since the administration wants to continue offering good housing to student families, Westmoreland is certainly their best option. Both upgraded and non-upgraded units are in very good shape, the complex is away from campus and offers a far better atmosphere for families, the location is quite good and will only continue going up in value (assuming proper maintenance,) and there is little indication of what will be done with nearly $8 million should the University actually manage to sell it at $18 million. Will it go towards a new residence hall? If so, where in the hell will this hall be built? Or will it go towards more family housing, and if so, how will that housing be significantly better or price-competitive with what Westmoreland already offers?

  16. Timothy says:

    Ian: Why would you want to see Westmoreland kept? Maybe I’m lacking a sense of “community” but if the University can sell off some dilapidated old apartments in a favorable real estate market I can’t see a downside.

  17. Timothy says:

    Regarding how Student Senate will decide

  18. ian says:

    Nick-

    The committee voted to allow the Senate to make a resolution

  19. Nicholas says:

    Regarding how Student Senate will decide “overwhelming majority”:
    According to the Senate Rules Committee members, “overwhelming majority” is for the student senators to decide, not the student body. Because any member of the ASUO is welcome to attend the public meetings, however, concerns from students will be addressed.
    The example of Westmoreland was intended to show how senators may argue in favor of something that may not “directly” affect every student. While the sale of Westmoreland apartments doesn’t affect me, for example, senators will now have the chance to make a case that such a move could have an effect on the diversity of the University, housing availability, etc.
    At the Rules Committee meeting the main critic, Senator Wally Hicks, said he was persuaded on the basis that senators would be able to debate the legitimacy of each resolution. If senators pass a resolution that the Oregon Commentator doesn’t agree with, don’t lose faith. It is the Senate president’s responsibility and authority to deny the review of a resolution that s/he does not think is germane to the duties of the Student Senate. Lastly, the Constitution Court still must review all resolutions. So far this year, Con Court has not been easy on any ASUO committee. (Remember the Recognition Review Committee, for example.)
    Further, the committee voted to change the rules from “majority,” meaning 50 percent plus one, to two-thirds majority. As the Student Senate treasurer said, “two-thirds can be really difficult to get.” As an example of this difficulty, the Senate needed 2/3 majority to override a veto of the classy fan behavior campaign allocation of $2,500 on Wednesday. They got it by one vote, which was from Senate President Stephanie Erickson.
    As for the “political masturbation” comment, each senator is required to hold at least one office hour per week. Most of them must hold two. Contact the ASUO Student Senate at senate@uoregon.edu or (541)346-3749.

  20. Danimal says:

    Or, elaborating on that, “overwhelming majority” means “it’s so obviously the right thing to do, that no students have bothered asking us to do it.”

  21. Gabrielle says:

    I’m sure that

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