New student representatives: an update

This is just as a quick update to the two earlier posts. At today’s council meeting, the ASM Student Council adopted a change that will require referenda to ask separate questions and a new definition of freshmen for fall elections. Neither change is official, bylaw changes require votes at two meetings before they take effect.

The separate questions change passed easily, with little discussion. I didn’t expect that it would be terribly controversial.

The new student voting question was a long and good discussion. In the end, we settled on “option one”, which would define freshman to be a ‘First Year Student’. If it had been in place in 2008, 694 students would have been included in the fall 2008 election. We expect the number to be similar for 2009.

It’s important to note that while change we set out to make today only effects first year students, we spent a long time exploring options to help transfer students and new graduate/professional students. However, the consensus in the room was that there were simply too many obstacles to attempt a change in the bylaws without also making a constitutional change, and that an on-the-fly constitutional change was ill-advised. It took a lot of persuading (or, just doggedly wearing down) many council members to even start on a bylaw change without more time to consider the ramifications.

The next step is to confirm option one at the September 2nd council meeting. If we are still comfortable with the change, it can become official at that meeting. If there are still concerns, the council may delay, with final adoption on September 16th, or else push the change out and fix it in time for the 2010 fall election.

The council did seem committed to trying to do something for transfer students and new grad students, potentially in time for the fall of 2009, but I suspect it won’t happen until 2010. As we get into proposed fixes, any thread we pull on will quickly unravel the whole thing into a big pile of problems.

One of the ideas that was discussed was moving some of the elections to the fall. There are two fundamental problems with moving away from a spring election. The first is the easier of the two: many of the ASM efforts for an upcoming year benefit from having a summer to prepare for it. It is better to have a new council start in the spring, and be energized for an upcoming fall than to give the summer over to an outgoing council that has no stake in the upcoming year. The real killer is the logistics of the SSFC process: the SSFC needs to be set, as much as possible, during the summer so they can train and organize for the fall. September and October are the middle of the eligibility hearings for student groups. It simply could not work to have major turnover and many new members in the fall.

I think the whole ASM council seat allocation process is flawed. Beyond the problem of thousands of students having no vote in the fall, the whole idea of districts based on college just doesn’t seem right. Who really says “I’m an L&S student?” There is no real connection between most council members and their ‘constituents’. (If you’re an L&S student, which one of the 12 is ‘your’ representative?) In the spring of 2008, the person I most wanted to vote onto the council was Adam Porton, but he wasn’t on my ballot. (In fact, there was only one person on my ballot, the other 4 grad seats had no one running for them).

Seat allocation and election timing is a complicated problem. On the constitution committee last year, we spent many hours trying different ideas, and ultimately we just left the system as-is. Maybe this year we can do better.

(The rest of the meeting was fast and smooth, except for starting 40 minutes late because we were one short for quorum. We appointed Tom Templeton to the Madison Inititiave Oversight Shared Gov committee, Katy Ziebell to SSFC, fine-tuned the press office job descriptions, endorsed a United Council event that will happen in Madison, and OK’ed a large-but-routine event grant for a World Music Festival the Union is sponsoring.)


1 comment so far

  1. Abdelime on

    Not being known for keeping my opoinnis to my self, I will give my $.02 worth. And you will get every penny’s worth of it.* Windows or Linux, what should we go to and whya) Use what you and your systems administrators know. If you have sufficient Linux support, then it probably would be the better choice. I prefer Linux (and unix) because I am a command-line guy and find it easier to manage the database and create and run ancillary scripts. However, remember, too, that the cost of the OS, software, and hardware are just the down payment. Your real costs are people and +business costs so you want an OS you can work with smoothly and efficiently.* Consolidationa) This is a real good idea if kept within reason — whatever that is. I am supporting a set of servers (prod, test) that have one or two databases of several releases running concurrently. Each database supports several applications, each in its own schema. Since we are running 9i, 10.1, and 10.2 we can easily migrate each system to the next level database as soon as the vendor or developers certify. When the next release comes out we will install that too and start moving new and upgraded apps to it. Some of our databases have eight or ten application schemas running concurrently. By doing this we get economies of scale bercasue we only have one set of CPUs, one set of memory, one temp, one undo, one system tablespace, one backup set, and so forth. Works great. Take it from someone who has done it.* RAC, ASM, Grid (the what, the when, the how)a) Carefully consider your performance and availability requirements. Many user communities consider thenselves 24*7*356 because they operate all day and night every day. But in my experience, they do not really need to be what I call ‘true’ 24*7. They are more like ‘near’ 24*7 in that they can afford a short (few minute) outage without significantly disrupting business operations. I consider a ‘true’ 24*7 operations systems where the business cannot ever afford to be down because it will cause a significant loss of revenue, credibility with the customer, or put lives at risk. So, taking that into consideration, what is the level of outage this part of your business operation can sustain without significant (your determine what that means) harm. Once you have determined that, you will almost natrually fall into one of the various availability options. Likewise consider your performance requirement for this area of your business, then use that to guide you in deciding on RAC, shared server, grid, dedicated server, etc.* Continuity of operationsa) Like above, once you know your area of the business’ tolerance for loss of service, you will konow what you need to do to assure that level of service continuity. But, and this is very important, you must consider the whole operations recovery or contunity plan. You may or may not recall, but during the floods this past autumn in New Orleans, a number of businesses had thier DR tapes safely off site in a third-party storage site. Then when the time came to reestablish operatins at a recovery center the found that everyting was in place and ready to go, except that they had not tapes to reload. It seems that the offsite storage location was in the New Orleans flood area too and it was at least four days before they could learn the condition of their tapes, let alone get ahold of them.So, all in all, I suppose there is no single right answer. It all depends on your situation and what is right for your operation.

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