A few weeks ago, the Students’ Association Senate went into an “executive session,” kicking out all but a few people from the room in which they were meeting.
It made me wonder, what secrets does senate have? They are generally not dealing with issues of national security or sensitive subjects that must be handled with confidentially.
With the possible exception of deliberation and votes surrounding impeachment, nothing the senate does during their official meetings should be secret.
One of the biggest problems is that certain types of votes send senate into an automatic executive session. That sort of automated process mandates unnecessary secrecy.
That means that a number of votes – for instance voting for someone to be on a committee – are not only done secretly, but the numbers on those votes are never recorded or made public.
Surely they deserve the ability to demand that no visitors are disruptive, but if people want to stay and see how their representatives are going about running the student government, there is absolutely no understandable reason why anyone should be barred from watching.
The SA Senate is supposed to determine things such as budgeting for student groups, services that will be provided for students and the like. There are no topics they address that should be shielded from public knowledge, nor should their deliberations about these topics be hidden from public view.
Senators will point out that Robert’s Rules of Order gives them the power to enter an executive session, and it is up to us students to take it away.
In addition to the other problems that currently exist in student government, senate’s last executive session should be alarming.
The All Campus Judicial Committee ruling had required them to hold new elections – instead, a senate comprised of some senators and some students whose positions had been nullified by the ACJC held a secret meeting.
That should bother us.
The senate shouldn’t have any secrets from the student body, especially given the state of disarray they were in at the time.
If SA President Lonny Mallach’s referendum passes, all of senate’s by-laws will be removed, and senate will be rebuilt from the ground up. At that point, we will have the opportunity to prevent senate from governing us behind our own backs.
Hopefully the new senate will see a year of open governing, no secrets and better, more informative decision making.
Powell can be reached at email@example.com.