The mood was relaxed at the student senate’s penultimate meeting Tuesday, as they prepared to pass the torch to next year’s administration. The senators, whose term ends May 31, were mostly concerned with preparations for the transition of the ASPSU Executive Staff and student senate for the 2009–10 academic year.
The mood was relaxed at the student senate’s penultimate meeting Tuesday, as they prepared to pass the torch to next year’s administration.
The senators, whose term ends May 31, were mostly concerned with preparations for the transition of the ASPSU Executive Staff and student senate for the 2009–10 academic year.
Discussion of student election issues figured prominently on the agenda, with former Elections Board Chair Ingrid Castellina offering an apology for several mishaps that may have factored into the election being disorganized.
In Castellina’s statement she touched on issues such as releasing candidate debate times before they could be confirmed, a failure to post a comprehensive voter pamphlet and take statements from all the candidates for the online ballot, and a failure to fire members of the board who did not pull their weight.
Castellina also cited a provision in the ASPSU Constitution calling for the Elections Board to foster “the widest possible participation” in the elections as grounds for a change in the way the E-Board conducts business. She called for an initiative to include more student groups and more of the branches of ASPSU in the elections process.
“If student government had been more involved with the election process, more confusion could have been avoided,” said Castellina, who resigned on May 5 after complications with the online ballot caused the first day of voting to be canceled.
Ariel Schultz, the Senate Pro-Tempore, offered assurances that issues with the process this year, including miscommunications with the Office of Information Technologies and unreliable Elections Board members, had been ironed out, and that the institutional memory process would pass those experiences on to next year’s administration.
Following this statement, Schultz shifted the conversation back to the student senate, admitting to some severe problems with the process this year, but also offering an optimistic view for the future.
She said the coordinating committee, campaigns for specific issues and stipends for senators were all new additions to the senate this year. She applauded this year’s senate for the changeover from department- or group-specific senators to a campaign-based system where senators focus on one specific issue.
“We’ve created the precedent that you can work on something you’re not just going to get the credit for,” Schultz said.
She hopes that “Next year [they’re] willing to take that momentum and run with it,” when referring to the incoming student senate.
There are several factors the senate hopes will make for a smooth transition.
One is ASPSU’s new Institutional Memory Wiki, a permanent, net-based copy of the traditional binders that old ASPSU staff members give to their incoming counterparts. Others include SPROG, the summer leadership camp that incoming and outgoing senators attend together, and several returning senators with experience from last year.
Like any student group, the student senate benefits from members with experience and institutional memory. And for the 2009–10 academic year, the 25-member body will have five returning members from this year’s senate.
However, for those who will be starting fresh next year, the current student senators have prepared a transition plan.
This year’s senate will have its last official meeting before its end-of-the-year event, which will be held next week. Current senators will hand over their transition notebooks to next year’s members, watch presentations of the progress made in 2008–09 and enjoy an awards ceremony.
The new administration’s term begins June 1. And even then, the former senators will remain available for questions and to offer advice, Schultz said.