On Thursday, March 29, the Campus Times argued in our editorial “Minutes take weeks” that the Students’ Association should minimize the delay that occurs between SA Senate meetings and the publication of the meeting’s minutes on its website. We claimed that, because the minutes are usually published approximately one week after the original meeting, with a grace period of about four days, students are unable to stay informed about the topics discussed at these sessions. The CT stated that this lag is unreasonable and that the minutes should instead be posted a few days after the meeting.
Part of what the CT failed to realize, however, is that the minutes act primarily as a means of accountability, not as a vehicle for relaying information to the student body. The SA uses other tools — such as Rocky’s Report and updates to its website — to communicate information about important SA projects, and they assume that initiatives not led by the SA will be publicized by the groups spearheading them. The CT did not mean to imply that the delay represents a lack of transparency, only that it felt like too long of a gap.
The CT would also like to establish that we now realize that our request for minutes to be posted before the next Senate meeting was unreasonable due to the SA’s established protocols. According to Robert’s Rules of Order — the guidelines for parliamentary procedure to which the SA adheres — the Senate must vote at its weekly meeting to approve the previous week’s minutes and attendance records of senators in order to ensure that published information is fair and accurate. The SA usually posts the minutes within a few days of approval, a reasonable time span under the organization’s protocol. While we recognize that Robert’s Rules are in place to promote a just and effective government structure, we still feel that some of the guidelines regrettably prevent further communication.
The CT believes that students should have immediate access to some information published in the minutes, such as updates on construction or University polices that are under review. To circumnavigate the conundrum presented by Robert’s Rules, the SA should consider posting highlights of the minutes on their website, including a note clarifying that the minutes from which the highlights have been taken have not yet been approved. The Senate already acts similarly with regard to decisions about funding. Offering a brief summary of the minutes would allow the SA to increase students’ knowledge of what is discussed at Senate meetings in a timely fashion while still allowing the SA to adhere to Robert’s Rules.