USG calls back senators to vote on Monday

The Undergraduate Student Government passed two pieces of legislation Monday night, but it took two attempts to accomplish.

USG began its meeting with enough senators to vote on legislation, but the Senate was four members short when the time to vote.

They were able to unanimously pass an endorsement of the Information Technology Services’ Alert BG opt-out initiative and USG election legislation, but only after a break while members called other senators to return.

“What got my attention is, it’s not like this is a recurring thing,” said USG President Alex Solis. “That’s what caught us so off guard is I’ve never seen this happen before.”

After a long open forum in which time was extended five times, four members had to leave for other organization commitments.

In order to vote on any legislation, USG must have quorum, or 51 percent of the senators present and eligible to vote. At Monday’s meeting, the Senate required 18 voters, but only 14 were present at the time of the vote.

“Our main goal is to never be a stagnant Senate and that’s why a vote is so important,” Solis said.

Speaker Melissa Dzienny called for a five minute break to call upon senators who had left. The four senators left other meetings to return.

Senators who leave the meeting before it is over are considered absent unless they are excused beforehand, said Internal Affairs Chair Ben Goldsberry.

Members are allowed two unexcused absences a semester. Any further meeting absences requires an internal review of their eligibility to remain a senator, according to USG’s bylaws.

“We really never have too many issues with attendance,” Goldsberry said. “It happens at the beginning of the semester because people are getting into their schedule.”

However, Goldsberry said senators are still expected to come to the weekly general meetings.

“If they’re missing the meeting, they’re not representing their constituents and they’re not doing their job,” Goldsberry said. “You’re sworn in to represent your constituency and that’s what we’re here to do.”

There were also three senators at Monday’s meeting who were not eligible to vote because they had not done their office hours for the week, Goldsberry said.

Senators are required to do two office hours a week, but if they have a deficit on their hours, they are not eligible to vote until serving the missed hours, according to the bylaws.

This isn’t meant to punish senators, but just to make sure only informed senators vote, Solis said.

“When they come in here and do their office hours … they do a lot of campus research,” Solis said. “It’s more of a time to inform yourself.”

It was important to pass the Alert BG legislation because it had already been tabled for a week, Solis said. USG also passed its election guidelines as emergency legislation, meaning they voted on it the first meeting it was presented, to stay on their election timeline, he said.

Alert BG is a text message and email alert system in which University police send messages to warn the campus community of emergencies. Students automatically receive emails, but they must opt-in to receive texts.

Now, students will automatically be signed-up for the texts unless they choose not to be.

The University administration will now carry the initiative forward.

“I’m happy this administration saw [the Alert BG initiative] through, and more importantly, now the next step,” Solis said.