In its first meeting of the fall semester, the Undergraduate Student Government senate passed a last minute addition to the agenda on Thursday, Aug. 28—an act that creates a procedure for appointing undergraduates to committees outside of USG.
The senate voted to pull the External Committee Accountability Act from the University and Academic Affairs committee without prior review by the Legislative Review committee. The senate then passed the bill by a vote of 16-1-1.
The act, if signed into law, will require the Vice President of Academic Affairs to notify USG officials of opportunities for undergraduates to be members of non-USG committees.
The vice chair of the University and Academic Affairs committee will receive all nominations for appointments to the positions, and the president will appoint nominees in consultation with the Executive Council.
Vice President of Academic Affairs Steven Adelson, who proposed the new bill, tried to have a previous version of the act passed at the May 1 senate meeting this year.
“It definitely wasn’t in the form that I had envisioned, and so I’m happy that it’s in a form that is pleasing to the senate as well as the executive council,” Adelson said.
The old version would have given the University and Academic Affairs committee the authority to remove appointees from their positions. Under the new act, appointees can be removed with a majority vote of the University and Academic Affairs committee and a two-thirds majority vote of the Executive Council.
Nominations will be restricted to USG members; if no USG members are nominated, then other undergraduates can be nominated. The University and Academic Affairs committee will have the authority to recommend nominees and to collect monthly reports from appointees.
When asked by College of Engineering and Applied Sciences Senator Valliappan Lakshmanan whether bypassing the Legislative Review committee was a bad precedent, Executive Vice President James Alrassi said that he did think such bypasses were unfair to members of the committee.
“I was on [the Legislative Review Committee], and there were plenty of things that were bypassed without Leg Review,” Alrassi said. “And I don’t want it to become something obsolete. Obviously their whole job is reviewing legislation and reviewing code, making sure that there are no discrepancies.”
Adelson argued that the action was necessary because of the time-sensitive nature of the act.
“External committees to USG are starting to meet, and we want to have representation on there as soon as possible,” Adelson said.
The senate also unanimously passed the latest version of USG’s financial bylaws. The new bylaws state that asset grants may be used to purchase items that are expected to last four semesters.
The act also states that national or regional event grants can be used to fund trips to events in which other schools are invited by “an external governing body, league, national committee or other.”
Treasurer Kathryn Michaud said that the purpose of the clause was to clarify a change that was proposed by the budget committee last year.
“Since so much of the grant pool usually goes towards these events, it makes sure that when we have an organization that’s going to a national conference, they’re able to actually represent us instead of it just being a club where there’s just a bunch of other schools involved,” she said.
The senate also made several appointments for positions both inside and outside of USG.
Lloyd Ippolito, the Residential Hall Association representative to the senate, was appointed as a USG representative to the Faculty Student Association’s board of directors. Ippolito will join fellow board members Adelson and USG President Garry Lachhar.
College of Arts and Sciences Senator Cody Pomeroy was elected as the president pro tempore of the senate, meaning that he must preside over this year’s senate meetings in the absence of the executive vice president.
Ryan Heslin was appointed as USG’s parliamentarian. Heslin, who was an associate justice of USG judiciary last year, will record the minutes of the senate’s meetings and consult the senate on the rules of parliamentary procedure.