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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ASUA: Your student government, not quite working for you

    Daily Wildcat staff might be the only ones who regularly check the ASUA Senate’s website for senate meeting agendas and minutes, even though nothing has been posted online for several weeks. And the fact that nothing is there now might not actually matter to us because we receive the agendas by email and we attend the meetings.

    But it should definitely matter to you, regardless of how frequently (or infrequently) you want to preview the agenda or read the meeting minutes.

    The Associated Students of the University of Arizona touts student government as an extension of your voice. Student government representatives like the senate are elected by you to work for you. But it’s not easy to figure out just what student government is doing for you without a lot more digging than you’re likely to do.

    According to the senate’s website, the last time the meeting minutes were posted online was July 11.

    Even worse, the last time a meeting agenda was made available online was prior to the March 28 meeting.

    Someone is recording the minutes at meetings, because ASUA bylaws dictate that “the executive chief of staff shall attend all regularly scheduled and special meetings of the ASUA Senate and take accurate, unbiased minutes of the business discussed.”

    Additionally, the ASUA constitution, ratified in 2006, dictates that those records being kept by the chief of staff are also kept readily accessible: “The Senate shall keep records of its proceedings which shall be available to the students.”

    So where are the agendas and minutes?

    According to ASUA President Katy Murray, the ASUA Senate’s website is undergoing a “massive overhaul,” though she was unaware neither minutes nor agendas are being posted during the renovations.

    Fine. ASUA’s website is pretty clunky and unwieldy, and we’d be grateful to see it revamped. But a website redesign doesn’t mean the current website — the one people see — should be abandoned.
    Murray, to her credit, seems eager to rectify the oversight, and promised that meeting minutes and agendas will be available again by the end of this week.

    She also added that the website overhaul would actually increase accessibility to ASUA by making the website easier to navigate, contact information easier to find, and documents like ASUA bylaws and its budget more readily available.

    But Murray isn’t the only elected official in student government, and surely someone lower on the totem pole had to have realized that neither minutes nor agendas have been updated in months.
    That lack of openness, whether intentional or accidental, contributes to the apathy students feel toward student government.

    With the resignation of former Sen. Claire Theobald, there are nine senators currently holding office, and at least five of them ran on platforms related to increasing visibility, accessibility and outreach efforts.

    Granted, senators run on platforms dedicated to making sure more people know about what ASUA is doing every year. And every year, senatorial candidates drone on about how students would be so much more interested in ASUA if they just knew what was going on.

    But when constituents seek transparency and accessibility from their leadership, real leaders don’t just respond, “Sorry, we’re down for maintenance.”

    It’s nearly the end of September. Although every elected member of the ASUA Senate has their yearlong term in office to work on the issues they campaigned on, increasing visibility and openness might happen a lot faster by simply taking a more active role in informing students of what student leaders talk about.

    — Editorials are determined by the Arizona Daily Wildcat editorial board and written by one of its members. They are Bethany Barnes, Kristina Bui, Jason Krell and Alex Williams. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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