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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

ASUA Senate talks unprofessionalism, lack of transparency

Controversy struck the ASUA Senate meeting on Wednesday due to allegations of unprofessional behavior on the part of its appropriations committee.

Blanca Delgado, an Associated Students of the University of Arizona senator, asked to strike funding for the Investments Club because they gave an unorganized presentation to the appropriations committee about why they deserve funding. In addition, members of the committee were instant messaging each other on Skype, which she said was unprofessional and caused them to fund certain things last minute. This included the $1,800 that the Investments Club requested.

Senators then voted about whether or not to strike the funding, and all voted to do so, except for Sen. Erik Lundstrom.

According to Lundstrom, he voted against the measure because he wanted to revoke all appropriated club funding approved this week, not just the Investments Club’s. Arizona’s Open Meetings Law, he said, states that all interactions need to be open and transparent when dealing with public funds. Since members of the appropriations committee were instant messaging each other during their meeting on Monday, they could have been secretly discussing these funds and violating the law, he said.

Although other senators also had issues with the secret Skype chatting, saying they did not feel all of the clubs funded this week should be punished because of it.

“I do agree that transparency is a really big issue,” said Sen. Dani Dobrusin.

Bryan Ponton, executive vice president of ASUA and head of the appropriations committee, voiced concern about not administering funds to any club this week.

“These things (club funding) are time-limited,” Ponton said.

Things like plane tickets, train tickets and gas expenses need to be funded as soon as possible for some clubs so they can attend conferences and accomplish time-sensitive goals, he said.
Joel Torres and Ma’ayan Maoz, directors of the appropriati
ons committee, attended the ASUA meeting to explain what happened at their committee meeting on Monday.

Torres said that it was no secret that the Skype conversations were happening during their meetings, and that two ASUA senators knew about the Skyping.

“I understand what you (the Senate) and Sen. Lundstrom are upset about, but we are never going to do anything to make the ASUA look bad,” Torres said. “This has never been an issue until today, or even Monday.”

Lundstrom said that he respected the appropriations committee and appreciates what they do for campus clubs, however he disliked the fact that they violated the Open Meetings Law. The violation should be dealt with, he said, not swept under the rug like so many other issues the senate disregards.

ASUA President James Allen interjected and said that the Skype conversations were not actually illegal. Since ASUA is student funded and not publicly funded, he said, they do not technically have to follow open meeting laws.

“Is it good? No, but it is not illegal,” he added.

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