Thursday, December 3, 2009

12/02/09 SGA meeting notes and some other discussion

There was a lot of initial buzz about this week's issue of The Concordian. That was because of two pieces on the Opinions page, one by myself and the other by Ashley Green. They were both about the Student Government Association. I think this helps prove a point that I have been trying to make for years - the Opinions section is one of the best tools to get attention to the paper. Use the "controversy" and "personality" or whatever is featured in the Opinions section to get them to pick up the paper, then use the great features and excellent reporting (that should hopefully be in the paper) to get them to continue reading.

I don't know. That's just a former Editor-in-Chief of The Concordian throwing a few thoughts out there. Take it for what it's worth.

Next week will see the final issue of the fall 2009 semester. So, if anybody has any pressing issues that they would like to have looked at in the Opinions section, now is the time to send them in. E-mail all submissions to concordian @ concord.edu. Try to keep them around 500 words.

This semester has been a real growth period for The Concordian. I haven't been pleased with everything that I've seen in the paper, but it's better than it was last year. So, that's good. Hopefully any mistakes from this semester can be analyzed over the break and fixed in the spring.

This week, there was some good stuff to read. I'll filter through the paper and give you some links to check out -

Construction projects, renovations on campus ... Wendy Holdren wrote this piece, focusing on University Point, new telephone poles, and repairs to the steps in front of the library.

Salvation Army angels snatched faster than ever ... Another piece by Wendy, this one looks at the Christmas tree in the Student Center. Sweet story.

Student Activities Committee changes name to Student Operated Activity Planning ... Samantha Ricketts wrote this piece about how SAC is now SOAP. Both names are dumb, but at least now I can't make as many crude jokes about the group's name.

"New Moon" pleases fans ... Samantha Ricketts went to see the latest "Twilight" movie and she was impressed. I saw it, too. It was okay. I left a comment on the story as a joke. Check it out. Click here to see a picture of me at the "New Moon" midnight showing.

Weekly Dose of A&E ... I'm getting tired of the '80s nostalgia kick that the kids all seem to be on these days. I remember the '80s not being cool when I was growing up, and even a few years ago that was still the case. I don't like cliche '80s movies, but Jessica Fowler does. Most of you probably do, too.

Black Friday shopping: This is madness! ... Wendy describes her visit to Walmart the morning after Thanksgiving. It was crowded.

SGA amendments deserve discussion ... This is Ashley Green's letter to the editor about the SGA amendment that was voted down without allowing any discussion of it to occur. She was not pleased about that. Keep reading the next sections of the blog for more about this.

Communication Breakdown ... My weekly column, taking a look at the same amendment as Ashley Green. I talk about why I don't like it, and what I see as being the two biggest problems in the SGA - apathy and ignorance.

[On a side-note, while I understand why "Communication Breakdown" is a cool name for a journalism column, I wish I could have named it after a Led Zeppelin song I actually like. But, calling a column "Hey Hey What Can I Do" or "Tangerine" or "Going to California" doesn't really work.]

Twitter: "More of a nuisance than a means of communication" ... Samantha Ricketts, the News Editor of the paper, is on here a third time, now with a piece where she discusses why Twitter is pointless (with a couple exceptions).


I'll discuss this column as a segue into the next part of my blog. As we all know by now, I'm a huge fan of Twitter. There were people from Concord already tweeting by the time I signed up for Twitter, but I do believe I'm one of the people who helped popularize it around campus. I made it a point to mention Twitter in my blogs and help spread the word out there. While it's not a huge deal yet, there are a lot more Concord "tweeters" now than there were at the beginning of the calendar year.

To me, this seems like an instance of the old "I don't understand it, so I don't like it" way of thinking. Samantha thinks Twitter is pointless. She doesn't say in the article, but I'm guessing that she doesn't have a Twitter account. I have one and I don't think it's pointless. Click here to see a shirt she'd like. And, yes, that is a photo-tweet. And, yes, it is at Pizza Hut.

The attitude of "don't tweet because I think it's pointless" would be like me telling an artist "don't paint that picture because I don't want to look at it." Just because you don't care doesn't mean other people don't. I think John Meadows sums it up great in the comments section of the article. Also, as a cheap plug, check out his Vlog here - http://www.youtube.com/lifeofjohnmeadows. Maybe he'll mention the Twitter article in a vlog...

Since I mentioned earlier that this was a segue... here it is - tweets from the 12/02/09 SGA meeting. Myself and several others (but not as many this week) tweet during the meeting in an effort to share ideas and thoughts and (at least I do it) to inform people who can't or don't want to attend of what's happening during the meeting in a real-time news stream.

* * *

Here are tweets from the 12/02/09 meeting of the Student Government Association

I'll start with the list of people:

@chris_slater - Me
@Goodrichk18 - Kelly Goodrich
@lewisb01 - Bill Lewis
@garytuba08 - Gary Thompson
@Rc9000000 - Russell Christian
@Biff359 - Sean Noland
@SigTauGod - Mike Mann
@Babich53 - Richard Babich
@BagNadas - Kiwa Nadas
@Brittacious - Brittany Keys
@boleyn21 - Ashley Green
@grathwohl - Justin Grathwohl

There are a lot of people here who have Twitter accounts, but don't update that much. Most of these people didn't tweet during the meeting, but they were mentioned at one point by me. If their name is in parentheses before a tweet, that means they sent it. For those who don't know, Justin Grathwohl is a former Concord student who was active in the SGA.

Terms:

"RT" means Re-Tweet. If you see "RT" before a message, that means I'm re-posting what somebody else said. You can leave your own comments before the "RT" in the message.

If a message begins with "@_______" that means it is a reply to that person. If I write "@buckskeen," I am sending a reply to Buck. It's still public and people can see my reply.

I'll post my tweets, in addition to everyone elses. Their tweets will have their name in parentheses before the tweet.

The tweets are below. The first one is from me, and was sent out about half an hour before the meeting started. The last two, from Sean Noland and Justin Grathwohl, were sent about 10 minutes after the meeting had ended.

* * *

At the @CU_SGA meeting. Had a couple people tell me they enjoy reading my blog.

A lot of buzz surrounding mine & @boleyn21's pieces about the @CU_SGA. Both can be found at http://cunewspaper.com/

A girl sitting two seats away from me said, "You're the only one who gets it, Chris." I looked at her and said, "Huh?" She was on the phone.

.@Goodrichk18 couldn't make it, so @Babich53 is sitting next to me.

Hmmm... Tweeters in the room so far - @Babich53, @boleyn21, @Biff359. Looks to be it so far. Still 12 minutes to go.

Hey, @SigTauGod just showed up. Nice.

(Mike Mann) Guess who still doesn't have a voting paddle

I keep hearing that the amendment that both I & @boleyn21 wrote about will come back up today

Problem w/ getting this brought back up is that no discussion is allowed. They need to discuss it, though, to get their point across.

Now @Rc9000000, @lewisb01, & @Brittacious are here.

Perhaps @boleyn21 & others in support of this amendment could ask for "informal discussion" to bring up why they are in favor of amendment.

(Russell Christian) i'm back at #SGA fun times...#FML

(Ashley Green) Doesn't think this is going to go very well.

(Russell Christian) Btw all my tweets are from my laptop not my phone

RT @boleyn21: Doesn't think this is going to go very well.

(Mike Mann) People need to make me a paddle.

(Mike Mann) Yes! RT @SigTauGod: People need to make me a paddle.

(Mike Mann) I would raise my paddle. But. Hmm.

A tweet from @SigTauGod set off @lewisb01's phone. He had forgotten to put it on vibrate.

(Mike Mann) Yessssss. I win

(Russell Christian) ...this the song that never ends

I wonder if anybody will use my "informal discussion" idea to discuss that amendment.

(Mike Mann) Metallica song mama said stuck in my head

Curtis Kearns sent a letter of support to the UC Berkley BOG rep. They staged a protest over a 32% tuition increase.

Good tune RT @SigTauGod: Metallica song mama said stuck in my head

If you haven't seen it yet, check out mine & @boleyn21's stories about @CU_SGA on http://cunewspaper.com/

(Russell Christian) who is getting fired i wonder?

Likely Housing Chair RT @Rc9000000: who is getting fired i wonder?

(Mike Mann) Still can't believe dr. Parker was on campus yesterday

What?! Oh man! Wish I had been there... RT @SigTauGod: Still can't believe dr. Parker was on campus yesterday

My mom just called me. I ignored it. I'm busy.

(Russell Christian) i work in the library we need more staff to stay open 24 hours

I keep suggesting to The Concordian to do a story about @garytuba08 & his "green" work around campus, but nobody ever does it.

RT @cnnbrk: The NY state Senate killed a bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage in the state, voting 38-24 http://bit.ly/4CxfoI

(Mike Mann) Pointless.

There is debate on an amendment that would remove power from the @CU_SGA president. I've heard a lot of people are against this.

(Russell Christian) sex and gender are very different things

The amendment (11182009A) was written by @CU_SGA Affairs cmtee chair @BagNadas.

Curtis Kearns is making great points about why @BagNadas' amendment is a bad idea.

The @CU_SGA Prez has power b/c he's the Prez. We need to trust his or her judgement b/c the Prez is in charge.

(Ashley Green) Curtis, bill, and matt never ALL agree. That should say something about this amendment.

Kearns, @lewisb01, the Vice President, and the Business Manager have all spoken out against this amendment.

(Ashley Green) Just pointing it out...nobody likes it, but we are still discussing it.

Exactly RT @boleyn21: Curtis, bill, and matt never ALL agree. That should say something about this amendment.

@boleyn21 Use "informal discussion" to debate why your amendment needs to be passed.

Everybody at the @CU_SGA, check this out RT @grathwohl: @chris_slater I posted a comment on that article. http://bit.ly/7NRngL

(Ashley Green) I have no idea how to reply on my phone...but to what chris slater said about informal discussion..

(Ashley Green) .im not even sure the motion will be seconded by someone who voted against it last time.

The comment left by @grathwohl gives some insight on the amendment favored by @BagNadas & @boleyn21. Comment is on @boleyn21's piece.

.@BagNadas is getting angry while discussing her side in this amendment deal. It's eroding her credibility.

(Mike Mann) Gavin is destroying that gavel haha

Motion to reconsider the amendment @boleyn21 wrote about should start soon.

(Ashley Green) i dunno who follows twitter...but PLEASE vote to reconsider this.

In my plan, they should have waited until "New Business," ask for "informal discussion," talk about it, then "motion to reconsider."

Oh wow. That motion to reconsider failed horribly. Kinda sad.

(Ashley Green) Pretty sure I just lost faith in the senate. They don't even want the chance to voice their own opinions.

Looks like nobody did... RT @boleyn21: i dunno who follows twitter...but PLEASE vote to reconsider this.

RT @boleyn21: Pretty sure I just lost faith in the senate. They don't even want the chance to voice their own opinions.

Amendment was voted down b4 people could see @grathwohl's comment on http://cunewspaper.com/ about ideas for how it maybe could work.

(Sean Noland) I don't understand why people would be disappointed that the org reps voted AGAINST disenfranchising themselves. It should restore faith.

(Justin Grathwohl) @boleyn21 If there's one thing you can count on is that the Senate will not voice their opinions until it involves their money.

* * *

So, there's the tweets. Below you'll find my recap/thoughts from the SGA meeting. It may help explain some of the tweets, or vice versa. The recap will be in sentence fragments, with my thoughts - if any - will be below, in italics.

The meeting kicked off with Russell Christian's Safety committee report ... will begin looking into the inclement weather policy and possibly work on a better one ... meetings are Friday at 3 p.m. in the SGA Office

Dining committee chair Katlyn Amos noted in her report that she had experienced a "significant lack of attendance," and that she was still having regular meetings with Head of Dining Services Randy Keaton ... her meeting time is Monday at noon, in the cafeteria

She's gotten a lot of stuff done so far with the cafeteria. Both myself and Kiwa Nadas have, on seperate occasions, submitted a profile on her and what she's doing with the committee as a story idea to The Concordian. I don't know if that feature ever got done. Would be a good one for next semester.

University Publications committee chair (don't remember who it is) noted that he was looking at getting the SGA website updated, with all the correct information ... after that, would look into a possible redesign ... also looking into creating a SGA handbook, similar to a "For Dummies" manual

University Publications has been one of the most pointless committees in the SGA for several years now, getting very little done. I'm glad this semester's committee finally has an agenda and is trying to accomplish things.

ADA committee chair Jenn Smith noted that a problem with a door behind the Administration Building was fixed over the Thanksgiving Break ... Rick Dillon told her that the two issues that still needed to be corrected (off of a report from some company that she mentioned a while back) had been fixed ... should get another report from those people next semester

Concord University Student Affairs committee chair Karina Rahall noted that in the CUSAC (pronounced Q-Sack) meetings, they had discussed getting rid of the paper Add/Drop slips used for enrolling in classes and just using computers ... Gary Thompson, Green Sustainability chair, gave a Point of Information to note that he had spoken with the Registrar's Office about the same issue and that they were already working on that

Ethics committee report was given by SGA President Jeff Yeager ... noted that they are now starting to plan for next semester ... said the group has a "solid, ideological base" ... said that by March or April, should have some legislation to bring forth

Board of Governors representative Curtis Kearns gave his report next ... the Dec. 16 meeting of the BOG will be a teleconference meeting ... will bring forth legislation to officially name the SGA as the official representative of the students, which would replace the President of the University ... noted that he was on a committee to select a new Vice President and Academic Dean & that there were over 50 applicants ... is going to try once again to become the Chair of the Higher Education Policy Commission State Advisory Council of Students, as he believes he can accomplish more than the current chair ... sent a letter of support to the UC Berkeley BOG rep (I think that's who...) after their protest over a 32% tuition increase ... as a result of the letter, was invited to some sort of discussion panel thing

Ironically, the most interesting thing about Curtis' report is the thing I have the least amount of information about. I'm not sure what exactly Curtis got invited to as a result of sending his letter of support to somebody... but it's cool that it happened. Hopefully I'll have more information about that soon.

Vice President Akeya Carter-Bozman gave her report ... noted that she was displeased with some of the committees this semester ... urged any "slackers" to quit before they were fired ... next semester, said she would try switching around some committee chairs

President Jeff Yeager kicked off his report by noting that he was on a committee to find a head of the Academic Success Center ... Talked about a recent meeting he had w/ University President Gregory Aloia ... asked Aloia about getting replacing the desks in the classrooms with a table/chair setup ... noted that Aloia was receptive to that idea and also about keeping the full library open until midnight ... Jeff is going to appoint a student to serve on a committee to hire a new security guard

The Green Sustainability committee report was inadvertently skipped, so Gary Thompson gave his report next ... his committee recycled roughly 3000 pounds of paper recently ... got University 100 classes to go around campus and collect cigarette butts for a class project, will put them into a display to show how many are littering campus ... mentioned Concord's new hire, Alicia Suka, and that she will possibly have a paid position similar to what he does with his Green committee

Old Business -

Amendment 11182009A was up for discussion. The amendment would take some power away from the President and give it to the Executive Board.

This is the amendment discussed in some of the tweets earlier. The one Curtis Kearns and Bill Lewis agreed on. I don't like that amendment and I didn't hear anything convincing regarding why it was brought forward.

Kiwa Nadas, chair of the SGA Affairs committee, who wrote this piece mentioned that she wrote this because the SGA is a Democracy and she wanted to spread some of the power of the President. Curtis Kearns then explained to her that the SGA was a Republic, not a Democracy, and basically that the President needs to have power because he's the President.

As I mentioned in my tweets, Kiwa got angry at one point while debating this amendment, which really took away some of her credibility. It was a losing battle, and she continued trying to fight it, and it just got sad. It was clear that a majority in the room were not in favor of this, yet she continued trying to prove her point about why the President shouldn't have the power to select a Senator.

It was brought up as a counter argument by a couple different people that the President doesn't actually "pick" the Senator. He selects an applicant and the student senate votes on whether he can appoint that person. It was also brought up that the President can informally ask the Executive Branch for their opinion.

It's up for vote next week. I don't expect it to pass.

Also in Old Business, a motion to reconsider Amendment 11182009B failed. Had the motion to reconsider passed, the amendment would have been brought up for a vote again.

Had that passed, it would have started the 3-week cycle (introduced one week, discussed the next week, voted on the third). The only problem would have been that next week is the last SGA meeting, so it would have had to have been tabled until next semester, when it would have been voted on. That last sentence is a moot point, since it didn't pass.

The problem that some people (most notably Ashley Green) had with this was the fact that it was not allowed to pass so that it could be discussed. There are a lot of people who bring up the point that even if you do not like or agree with an amendment, you should at least allow it to be discussed. That way, you could maybe have your opinion swayed. If not, just vote it down in the third week.

I agree with that line of thinking. As of right now, I don't like the amendment. I said as such in my "Communication Breakdown" (not my "Hey Hey What Can I Do"). But, what if Ashley or somebody could sway my opinion? We'll never know.

Justin Grathwohl, a former Concord student who was active in the SGA, left a comment on the Concordian article about what else would need to be done in order to make this work. He noted that changed would need to be made to the budgetary process, since that's why most org reps show up (to get money). If you get rid of the org reps, you'd have to change the way they get money.

A comment like Justin's would be an example of something that would have been said in discussion. Somebody would say, "Well, my issue is with org reps and budgetary." That's actually what I heard an org rep say about this. Then, Ashley or whoever could say, "Well, here's what we would do about that..." Then, they could collectively decide whether or not to agree to this.

That's my take on it. If you'd like to share your take, feel free.

* * *

That looks like pretty much everything I have to share.


As always, here's the disclaimer:

I import these blogs into Facebook. That gives me the option to "tag" people, sending them an e-mail notification. I tag people for two reasons - 1) if I mention you by name & 2) if I think you will find this interesting. If you are tagged and don't want to be, let me know. If I don't tag you & you'd like to be tagged in the future, let me know.

There is a comment feature on this blog & I don't mind if you use it. It's cool to disagree, as long as it's kept civil. Anonymous comments are allowed, as long as it's relevant & mildly profanity free.

8 comments:

  1. For anybody curious, here's the song that Mike Mann tweeted about having in his head during the SGA meeing -

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dK-ozcitHPY

    ReplyDelete
  2. Also, I may have picked up some new readers recently, so check out the link to see why I do what I do -

    http://chrisslater.blogspot.com/2009/05/welcome-to-my-new-home.html

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  3. I'm sure you already had an idea that I would comment on this (which I seldom do, so that show anyone reading this a thing or two). Anyway, this may take awhile, so here goes:

    First of all...The tweets. Your plan to wait until new business, motion for informal discussion, then make the motion to reconsider was good in theory. However, the amendment was submitted last week, so it was considered old business. To do what you said wouldn't have been proper parlimentary procedure, unless I was informed incorrectly.

    As for my article and what happened in the SGA meeting today...It is clear that this amendment was not perfect. I helped write it and I'm in agreement with that. I was in no way excpeting it to pass. However, what made me discover that there were problems was, big suprise, discussing it with people between the last Senate meeting and this one. Lots of people I talked to made valid points, including possibly dividing Senators by department/major, adding more commuter senators because there is a larger ratio of commuter/on-campus students than we allowed for, and the point you made in your article: that 20 Senators gives off the country club feel. After hearing that comment we could have quite easily amended it to allow for more positions.

    One of the things I feel is a major problem with not discussing it is that the people who drafted the amendment did not have a chance to explain themselves. At first glance the org reps see this only as something that removes their positions. I agree with what Sean Noland said in his tweet at the end of the meeting...You certainly have to have faith in them for the fact that they didnt want to dissolve themselves. However, simply getting rid of organizational reps is not what we were trying to do. As I mentioned in my article, this amendment would make it easier for organizations to apply for and be awarded budgets. It gets rid of the on qualification that many organizations have trouble with: attendence. Anyone who has attended SGA meetings knows how many voting rights get taken away within the first month or so.

    Its not just about budgets, though. It was mentioned by multiple people who attended SGA Affairs committee, including myself and the chair, that Org Reps do not represent the student body as a whole. Not every student is in an organization, but every student falls into the category of Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, or Senior. (and in regards to the option of doing it by majors...everyone eventually has one). By dividing it up differently, you have the chance to represent the student body as a whole. As for the country club feel you mentioned in your article...Only freshman senators are appointed. All others are elected. It still may not work perfectly, but as the saying goes, nobody's perfect. The opinion of the committee was that this was a better option than the one currently in place.

    I think thats all I have to say for now...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ashley,

    I haven't had time to digest your whole comment, so I may have some more to add to it later... but the only thing I want to address right now was this comment -

    "As for the country club feel you mentioned in your article...Only freshman senators are appointed. All others are elected."

    In theory, that's true. But, as we all know, rarely are there enough people running for every available Senator position. Most of the regular Senator positions wind up being appointed as well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Also,

    maybe you could motion for informal discussion next week during new business and talk about what a bad precedent people set by not allowing this to be discussed.

    ReplyDelete
  6. However, currently anyone serving as an organizational rep cannot run for the position of senator. The point was mentioned when Dustin Blankenship gave up his freshman senator position to be an org rep in 2007-2008 (which was most likely a political move and did exactly what he wanted it to do). I know I didnt apply for freshman senator for the same reason...my org needed someone to represent them. However, if this had passed, anyone who is currently and org rep and wanted to continue to be active in SGA would be eligible to run for senator.

    And I feel like bringing it up a third week in a row when people are so against it is pointless. However anyone who wants to is welcome to discuss ways to fix it with us during SGA affairs committee.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "Informal Discussion" is a very sloppy way to try and get the job done. It opens the door for anyone to talk about anything during that time. It eliminates time limits on speeches, queues for speaking, and potentially any kind of semblance of progress toward the original intention of the motion.

    Consider if you will... Ashley calls for the motion with hopes of discussing her amendment. It passes. People start talking. Someone in the back realizes what is going on and that he could mention something that has been weighing on his mind about something completely off topic, but when he mentions it, it derails the Senate. Now his topic is on the top of everyone's mind. See where this is going?

    I have always wondered why the only time you ever saw members of the SGA visiting other orgs was when they wanted to get elected to something at the end of the year. If you want your opinions heard, go directly to them! It's called lobbying. If lobbying the rep doesn't work, then lobby the group they represent. Open up with a hook like "I would like to eliminate the need for you to have to send someone to SGA each week while still allowing you the opportunity for funding for what is important to you." Assure them that their voices will still be heard, just through different channels.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Buck,

    You're right, lobbying is something that should be done more often in the SGA. I've only seen a few instances of it in the past, and two that spring to mind involved two students both going around before the meeting and asking people to vote them onto the Budgetary committee.

    ReplyDelete