Tonights meeting began an hour later than usual, as Senators were busy attending the Presidents Leadership Symposium until past the usual 7pm start time. For some bizarre reason, the Leadership Resource Office saw fit to invite your Commentator management to the bash, where we endured a “pick a major” test, campus caterings “student” level of cusine (well below “donor,” “admnistrator” and “faculty” levels), and a speech on the importance of courage in leadership… guess which of these didn’t set the tone for the following meeting? Angry, angry after the jump…
The Senate heard several special requests this evening, but only one was of any real interest. The United States Student Association requested some $2,000 from surplus with which to send a larger-than-usual delegation to their upcoming lobbying conference in Washington D.C. A few concerns arose early about possible discrimination against seniors in the selection process, and the request was initialy voted down by a single vote. Senators Lleras and Sunowen who are members of the delegation appropriately abstained, while Senator Gulley, also a member of the delegation, did vote for the measure. After the first vote failed, more discussion ensued and I was given an opportunity to ask why every Senator who is involved with USSA was on the delegation, which was never answered. I further requested that Senators who are also delegates refrain from voting on the request out of basic respect for rules against conflicts of interest. The motion was brought again, and again Gulley voted aye, and this time it passed by a single vote.
Now, I could talk at some length as to why the USSA is a less than optimal use of student dollars, and even further on the lack of need for an extra-large delegation this year, but these are not the issues. The issue here is that a Senator with a clear, definable conflict of interest was able to cast a deciding vote on a request which directly affected him after he was publicly asked to recuse himself. This is exactly the kind of flaunting of the rules, and total disregard for procedure which the ASUO seems incapable of shaking off, even after sitting through a lengthy speech on the importance of courage in leadership. The Commentator will be filing a grievance against Gulley for his biased, self-interested disregard for basic propriety and good governance. The fact that he voted the first time when all of his fellow delegates abstained should have shamed him, but clearly more drastic action is required. I fully expect that this grievance will be granted, and that this request will receive a fair, unbiased vote by Senate.
Some discussion followed on SB 28, on the status of the SRC, but action will wait untill next week. Also, Senate passed the EMU budget, which came in at its 5.5% increase benchmark. For the first time since the 1960′s, the Incidental Fee comprises less than one-half of the EMU budget. Happy happy, joy joy.