It is occasionally argued that parliamentary procedure serves as more of a vice in a UPUA than an effective way to run a meeting. It goes without saying that a representative organization controlling a six-figure budget should have bylaws and procedure, but far too often, some UPUA representatives take their thirst for government to the next level and back the organization into a parliamentary mess.
Although it got worse as the night went on, a telling example came when one representative asked at-large representative Melissa McCleery a question during a legislative discussion. She stood to answer, but according to Robert’s Rules, members of a body may only speak twice on one issue during each session.
Two members quickly yelled out, “Point of order!” correctly explaining the rule and alerting the chair that McCleery had, in fact, already exhausted her two speaking opportunities. A noticeably pissed McCleery asked for someone to move to extend the limits of debate so she could answer the question, which went on with no objection.
As I said, things only got worse as the meeting plowed on. The bill previously mentioned aimed to strengthen UPUA’s attendance policy, both at general assembly and committee meetings. McCleery, a former committee chair herself, offered an amendment that would limit the penalty for being late to a committee meeting — specifically, she found the restrictions for earning half-credit too draconian — arguing that representatives are typically very busy doing things for those committees and are often late as a result.
Belz and speaker John Wortman were both vocally in disagreement with the amendment, but when it came time to vote on it, they both voted “yes” despite President Anand Ganjam clearly explaining that a “yes” vote constitutes support of the amendment, not the actual legislation. The miscue prompted a two-minute recess so that Belz could find the proper Robert’s Rules page to determine the procedure for a revote. If you’re thinking that this sounds like a mess, you would be right.
But before I give you the juicy results of that vote, let’s run down the recap of last night’s general assembly meeting, which saw multiple executive board appointments pass through.
Special Presentation — Linda LaSalle (University Health Servives):
LaSalle was there to discuss the ongoing debate with the smoke-free campus concept. She gave a presentation to UPUA, throwing out statistics on cigarette-related deaths and explaining that five Big Ten schools already implemented smoke-free campus policies. LaSalle added that OPP has said the university would save $200,000 by banning cigarettes on campus, though she could not explain how that money would be saved when pushed by representatives (presumably, some expense goes into picking up butts and other sanitary measures).
Later, a representative asked LaSalle how the university would accommodate student smokers, arguing that some branch campuses offer gazebos for smokers or other quarantined smoking areas. LaSalle essentially said that the university would assist by offering programs that help students quit or switch to cigarette alternatives, although she later admitted that those programs already exist and are currently under-staffed, going on to say that there is just one UHS employee designated to said programs and that those duties make up five percent of her work.
The assembly then moved on to Executive Board confirmations for the second straight week.
Director of Finance — Stephen Strackhouse:
Strackhouse told the assembly that he has experience as a Smeal mentor and has worked in both the PSU Finance Society and the PSU Investment Association. He added that he has worked with the previous administration and treasurer (the former name of the Director of Finance position) and said that he is comfortable with the responsibilities it would entail.
Strackhouse was confirmed 20-8-2.
YOUSRV Directors — Gokul Sundar and Madison Salvitti:
This pair, of which Sundar is a former representative, was slated as a duo to run the UPUA intern program. Despite passing through Internal Development, the two did not seem quite at ease in front of the assembly, although this didn’t seem to matter. The slate passed passed 23-9-1.
Director of Alumni Relations — Meeten Doshi:
Doshi, a candidate for president in this year’s UPUA election, was up for confirmation for UPUA’s newest Executive Board role. Doshi said that the coming year would be focused on forming an Alumni Interest Group, or AIG, for former UPUA members. He was confirmed 32-1.
Director of Student Conduct Advisers — Mia Rendar:
This was essentially a no-brainer as Rendar was the incumbent for this position and did good work, increasing the SCA’s relationship with the Office of Student Conduct and moving the group’s application online. She was confirmed unanimously.
And on to the legislation…
Policy 01-09 — Attendance Policy Updates:
This was pretty much explained above, but the suspense on the results are coming to a close. McCleery’s amendment failed by a vote of 13-20 before the policy as a whole passed 30-3.
Policy — Budget for the 2014-2015 Academic Year:
Belz made some minor adjustments to this bill to account for Steps for State funding, taking that money out of the remaining discretionary, but this unsurprisingly passed unanimously with little debate.
Bill 02-09 — Finals Frenzy Funding:
Finals Frenzy is making a triumphant return after not existing last year. A bill that exists primarily to give students pencils and juice boxes during finals week passed unanimously.
No quote this week. Happy Thursday, everybody.