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Rules, Rules, Rules: The 11/2/06 ASUO Roundup

Before we dive into this weeks ASUO-mania, one caveat must be made to our adoring readership. Your intrepid ASUO reporter was awfully tired for last nights Student Senate meeting because he’s been working during his days off to make up for time lost while putting out the SMACKDOWN! issue, which is on shelves now. As a result, he only stayed for about an hours worth of fun last night, and as a result he missed about 3 hours of whining, petulance and bitter recrimination. Please forgive him as he struggles to get this all straight.

The evening began with a few typical minor missteps, but in the early hours of the meeting, the Senate seemed to be turning a corner in becoming a more competent, responsible body… apparently this was not to last, but more on that later. The most heartening moment came when MEChA came in with a request to raid the surplus to fund a new stipended position, and was swiftly and judiciously smacked down by the Senate. The request was for $545, which would have created a “design coordinator” in charge of maintaining the “direction and layout” of MEChA’s website, an objective which was touted as being “very important for the organization.” Perhaps the most hackneyed and shameless moments came as the MEChA representative claimed that this appropriation would “help uphold (the Senates) mission statement, as the MEChA website supports diversity on campus.” The MEChA rep even went so far as to say that the group “has the money, but has to save it for their national meeting, or else, y’know, we won’t be University of Oregon MEChA. These appeals to the ignorance and buzzword-conditioning of the Senate was admirably rejected by a wide margin, showing that Senators may, actually take their responsibility in dealing with the surplus fund seriously. Helping them along (and perhaps inspired by our Political Smackdown analysis) was Senator Papailiou, who handed out free Red Bull to the entire senate, in a move he may have regretted at least once during the following three hours.

The Daily Emerald is running a story about the the Senates passage of a much reduced guidelines package, here. I was not lucky enough to experience the whole night of merry-making, because of “the silent killer of ASUO involvement,” fatigue. I was lucky enough to witness the assembled quorom of the Constitutional Court be paraded in to inform the hapless Senate that they were required by the Green Tape Notebook to pass operating guidelines by the end of the meeting. Had our heroic leaders been lobbying for this stuff? Were coalitions forming to support the cell-phone usage in Senate meetings clause? Apparently not. It appears, in fact, that this caught our beloved democratic institution completely by surprise. The initial response came from Senator McKenzie, who asked Chief Justice Matt Greene if “there was no way he could extend the deadline?” To which, strict constitutionalist Greene replied “Um, you mean, ammend the Constitution? No.” So much for activist judges.

Apparently, they stayed up all night “whittling away” at the original document of guidelines, eventually agreeing only on the “rules of procedure” and “criteria for the fulfillment of duties” sections of what at one time was a four page document. Hardly shocking stuff, considering the general political affinity for lack of oversight and “streamlined procedure” (for example, the removal of Retreat Guidelines.) In an email sent to fellow Senators today, Senate VP Jonathan Rosenberg had a concise summary of the events. “Essentially, we as a senate had an opportunity to set some guidelines beyond the minimum requirements outlined in the Green Tape Notebook, and for some reason, we did not. This was in spite of a rising incidental fee, higher cost of tuition, and a general desire to move toward fiscal responsibility. To be candid, I believe that it was irresponsible for our senate to approve Senate Bill 12 without including any financial guidelines, as permitted by the GTN. ” We appreciate Senator Rosenbergs contextualization of what others might see as a evening of last-minute politicking.

At the Commentator, we know a thing or two about letting deadlines catch up to you. We all lead busy lives, and fulfilling petty little things like operating guidelines mandated by the Green Tape Notebook by a certain date is not always at the top of the priority list. How about this: let’s call it a learning experience and move on. Unless these pressing issues emerge again, as Senator Sunowen might fear, because they may yet again forbid the usage of cellular telephones during “government” meetings. You may even have to use some of that valuable Political Capital to say, defend your right to munch Ak-Mak in the Boardroom. To Arms!

  1. Jacque says:

    Quite honestly, a pretty decent summary!

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