A lackluster year for AU student government

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The University of Arizona Student Associates is AU’s undergraduate student governing body; however, for the duration of the 2021–22 academic year, the body did not govern much. As the ASUA election season approaches, the Daily Wildcat took a look back at the last seven months of AU student government activity.

Seats in the Senate

The 2021-2022 ASUA Senate began in September with five vacant senator seats, four of which were subsequently filled. The four nominated senators were sworn in on November 3, 2021, after a candidacy process consisting of an application on Handshake and a series of interviews with leaders.

Those senators were Abby Hauser from the College of Humanities, Anne Zlatow, a graduate student from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Ziana Collins from the College of Pharmacy and Edda Anderson from the College of Public Health.

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Neither the ASUA constitution nor the bylaws mention a senate seat for the College of Veterinary Medicine. However, there is one seat for the College of Medicine, which is currently unfilled. Sylvester Gaskin, associate dean of students for student governance and programs, confirmed to the Wild cat that the senator from the College of Veterinary Medicine was hired by mistake and that there is no seat for the college. Zlatow is also a graduate student, while ASUA is an undergraduate student government.

The Senate was also missing representatives from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Optical Sciences, which will not be filled until next school year.

Presence

There were 23 meetings of the ASUA Senate 2021-2022. Five senators missed a quarter or more of the ASUA Senate’s total meetings.

College of Fine Arts senator Jack Haskins and College of Education senator Elsa Ayon have missed the most ASUA meetings so far, each with six absences. Jiselle Lugo, Senator General, Louise Lalescu, Senator for the College of Science and Swathi Ramkumar, Senator for the College of Engineering, missed five meetings each.

Article V of the ASUA Bylaws states that “charges of automatic dismissal shall take place after the fifth wrongful absence”. According to ASUA’s own archives, only one senator has accumulated five unjustified absences: Senator Lalescu.

At a meeting on Nov. 10, 2021, a third of the senate — five senators — were marked absent. There was only one meeting at which the entire senate was recorded present.

Only one senator has a perfect attendance record: Lauren Heath, senator from the College of Architecture Planning & Landscape Architecture.

Awareness, transparency and accessibility

According to Article V, Section 5.03 of the ASUA Senate Bylaws, the Senate Projects and Outreach Committee (chaired by Senator Haskins) has many marketing and outreach responsibilities. These include updating the Senate website and all ASUA Senate social media accounts, presenting a monthly report from the Senate regarding current campus issues, inviting guests to attend Senate meetings and maintaining a strong relationship with the Wild cat.

Four senators and two members of the executive campaigned either for transparency and accessibility or for awareness among the student body. Senators Ayon and Lady Elli both mentioned awareness during their campaign, while Senators Jack Healy and Lalescu promoted transparency and accessibility during their campaign.

Senator Healy explicitly stated during last year’s ASUA Senate debate that it was a personal goal for every major to know their name, a feat he would achieve through a mix of social media and outreach. in person.

The ASUA Senate Instagram has only posted twice this academic year, and the ASUA Twitter the account has not posted since April 2021.

In July 2021, Student Body President Noah Vega was invited by the Wild cat to write a letter to the new class of freshmen, class of 2025, to be published in the first printed issue of the 2021-2022 academic year. Vega agreed but never delivered the letter.

In February, the Wild cat contacted Executive Vice President Alexandra Devereux to inquire about the excused or unexcused status of Senate absences. Devereux declined to provide information on the grounds that it was not required to be made public, citing Arizona public records laws.

At the March 16 meeting of the ASUA, Devereux released the number of excused and unexcused absences of ASUA senators. No explanation was provided as to why the information had previously been withheld.

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Durability

Three senators and one executive officer mentioned sustainability during their campaign. A resolution passed in September 2021 calling on the university to completely divest from fossil fuels was the one and only resolution to pass during this ASUA session. The resolution was sponsored by UAZ Divest and Administrative Vice President Kyle Kline, but was largely drafted by the University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Assembly and Penn’s Student Sustainability Association.

Vega spoke with the UA Foundation about divestment following the passage of the resolution, but was met with resistance. He refused not only to set a specific date for the divestment, but also to make a concrete commitment to do so.

The UA Foundation suggested it would consider letting fossil fuel investments die out, but Kline said it would not be able to fully divest until 2029. The divestment resolution passed by the ASUA called on the foundation to fully divest the endowment funds by 2025 and publicly announce by 2022 that it will make no new fossil fuel investments.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Five senators and one executive officer made campaign pledges to improve diversity, equity and inclusion at the AU. Senator Elli, who was among the aforementioned senators, explicitly stated as a candidate for the position of student senator that she would seek to “promote and improve DEI initiatives by creating resolutions that would meet the needs of cultural and resource centers” .

The ASUA has not passed any DEI-related resolutions this academic year and has not done so since February 2021.

Constitution and regulations

The ASUA constitution was amended by referendum in March 2020. The updated constitution was never uploaded to the ASUA website; instead, the previous version of the constitution, last updated in October 2017, is still on the website.

The ASUA Bylaws have not been updated since 2018. They also include outdated references, including mention of the Senate Whip, a position that was abolished in January 2021. The structure of the Bylaws is inconsistent. For example, the statutes relating to the “ASUA Senate” are listed in the table of contents as Article V, but in the body of the document they are labeled as Article IV.

There is currently no way for students to access the current, up-to-date constitution.

House of Representatives

In 2020, University of Arizona students approved, by referendum, an amendment to the ASUA constitution that established a House of Representatives, among other revisions.

During a question-and-answer session with the Wild catSpeaker Vega said, “I think a very big factor and a variable that’s really going to change government this year is going to be the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives is going to be so, so big.”

“The House of Representatives will be formed this year under the leadership of Executive Vice President Devereux and the selection processes for representatives will be determined after coordination with the respective student populations/organizations,” AVP Kline told the Wild cat last fall.

The ASUA has provided no update on its progress in establishing a House of Representatives since its approval.

ASUA Remuneration

Elected and appointed ASUA officers receive compensation for their service to the AU student community.

Each senator receives a stipend of $1,250 for their service, totaling $20,000 paid to the fifteen senators collectively. The administrative and executive vice presidents each receive $5,500 and the president receives $7,000, totaling $18,000 between the three leaders.


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