New committee provides oversight to student senate

Student body Vice President Kyle Cady has had a lot of tasks this year, but his main goal has been to overhaul the way the legislative branch of ASPSU works.

Student body Vice President Kyle Cady has had a lot of tasks this year, but his main goal has been to overhaul the way the legislative branch of ASPSU works.

Before this year’s Senate term, student senators were not paid for their time. Not many people wanted to serve, and it was uncommon for the Senate to even reach a quorum.

This year there have been many changes, not the least of which being that student senators now get paid for their time. In exchange for an estimated 10 hours of work per week, senators receive a stipend of $200 per month.

During these 10 hours of duty, each senator is expected to spend two hours in meetings, two hours being available to students with open office hours, and the rest of the time spent serving on committees. Each senator is expected to serve on at least two committees, one of which deals with that senator’s particular campaign on campus.

“A lot of senators don’t come in necessarily with the skills and the knowledge and the training, but we’re providing that,” said Cady. “We’re implementing a lot of grassroots training that we set up over the summer.”

The major change Cady has implemented this year is the formation of a Senate Coordinating Committee. In Cady’s words, “the vice-president has always had too much power in the Senate. It’s really important that the executive branch and the Senate do not meld together.”

Historically, that melding has happened because the Senate’s lack of members has required the vice president to shoulder a lot of responsibility. The Coordinating Committee, made up of six members of the Senate, has as its main duty the removal of that power and placing it back in the hands of the Senate. 

This removal of the vice president from the power structure ensures that the Senate remains an independent entity, able to issue checks and balances on the executive branch of ASPSU.

“It’s kind of like the Rules Committee in Congress,” said Sen. Daniel Lyons, a member of the Committee.

Senate Pro Tempore Heather Spalding chairs the Coordinating Committee. Five other senators sit on the committee, as well as Cady and the Oregon Student Association Campus Organizer as group advisors.

The Coordinating Committee has several responsibilities, most of which can be described as overseeing the function and effectiveness of both the Senate and its individual members. The Committee ensures that the Senate follows through with its constitutional responsibilities, including the approval of the student fee budget and the confirmation of ASPSU bylaws.

Aside from overseeing the Senate’s activities as a body, the Committee also oversees the individual members’ activities, ensuring that Senators fulfill their obligatory office hours and campaign activities, for example.

“[The Committee makes] sure that they understand what they’re supposed to do,” said Lyons. He stressed that it was important that Senators talk to their constituents, and that students knew that their Senators were available to speak with.

“Student government can be utilized very effectively to affect change,” said Cady. “The purpose of this is to take the Senate to a higher level—to make sure it is the representation, advocacy, and checks and balances that it needs to be.”