ASI is debating making some changes to a few positions within the council and senate Vice President Pasindu Senaratne suggested that senator pro-tempore take on some of the responsibilities that the secretary of internal affairs currently holds.
A possible change in the bylaws that would shift the responsibilities of the secretary of internal affairs to senator pro tempore sparked a debate at the ASI senate meeting last Thursday.
Senaratne, the ASI vice president, was the initiator of the change and recommended that the senator pro tempore position should oversee inter council.
ASI President Jennifer Greenberg strongly disagreed with the changes.
“I felt it was a very quick decision and wasn’t quite well thought out,” Greenberg said.
According to Senaratne, there have been issues in previous years with presidents of councils disliking their senators’ presence in council meetings. Having the senator pro tempore preside over inter council would essentially bridge the gap between councils and senators. New rules for the pro temp position are aimed at assisting senators by guiding them through duties and tasks while also being available, should any conflicts arise, to understand both sides of the argument and “better assist the senator who has that issue,” Senaratne said.
Greenberg said that having chaired inter council last year, her primary focus was assisting the councils. She mentioned that one of the main changes that she and the former ASI president pushed for was the inter council to make recommendations to the Senate.
“Having heard frustrations from all the presidents or designees, the senators are not always the ones who represent the entire council in every decision … sometimes they want to be able to bring things forward themselves,” Greenberg said.
The position of internal affairs used to be in charge of the student health and advisory committee but due to changes last year, it no longer does. Shifting the inter council responsibilities from internal affairs would completely change the position.
Greenberg said she thought the decision could create conflicts of interest.
“How can they serve every council when they were voted in as a senator to serve the members of their specific council?” Greenberg said. “I think it’s a conflict of interest.”
ASI Sen. Pro Tempore Rachel Hunter disagreed that it would be a conflict of interest because as senator pro tempore as well as senator-at-large of the Student Interest Council she is able to serve in dual capacities and separate the two. Another point brought up by Hunter was that the role of pro temp is to assist senators and help guide them along with advisors. Having that position chair inter council would give pro temp the opportunity to work alongside council presidents and make sure the visions of the council aligns with that of the senators.
“Having pro temp chair inter council, they don’t have to have a vote,” Hunter said. “Just like all our cabinet positions don’t have a vote in their committee, this gives most of the voice and the direction of the committee to the member.”
Should pro temp take on the responsibilities of internal affairs, it would leave the secretary of internal affairs more time to focus on the volunteer program and really make that grow, Hunter said. Rocio Antonio, senator of the Collins College of Hospitality Management, mentioned her concerns to that point.
She said that while anything can develop if given more attention, the position already doesn’t have a heavy workload.
“There’s not much to do with that program,” Antonio said.
Greenberg also argued that it devalues the position and inherently the person in that role. “These positions exist because they are all priorities,” Greenberg said.
Senaratne responded to that argument, stating the pro temp should be more valued because s/he is a member on the E-Board. The meeting adjourned with no defined resolution to the debate having reached the end of the meeting and no interest from anyone for a motion to extend the time.
The next senate meeting will take place on Thursday, March 7.
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