ASM Roundup

A couple of random things, since Smathers keeps teasing us but never actually posting the next day. (It turns out it’s hard to keep up with everything 🙂

— I have formally resigned from ASM council. I stayed on for a little while longer, to finish up some grad student RA things, and to submit some final pieces of legislation, but there’s nothing now that I need to be a council member to do. I think I’ve only picked up one unexcused absence (special meetings don’t count.) I also did not file for reelection, and I think the deadline has passed, so I’m done.

The SSFC is working in “subcommittee“. I always think of my church when I think of SSFC, and the liturgical calendar. There are feast days and seasons, and some are more joyous than others, and some you just don’t much care about. Subcommittee is the Lent of SSFC – preparing for the upcoming resurrection of SSFC. My brief reaction to the items they’re discussing:

Campus Services Fund: Good idea. We need to diversify the funding streams and not just have everything go through the GSSF, nor should we assume that a student group will come forward and provide the services we want.

Move the SACGB and Finance Committee under SSFC: Maybe. Initially I was opposed, but I’m warming up to the idea. Getting the VPN part right is really hard, and it’d be nice to have more consistency between the three groups. However, in a broader picture, I’m not sure I want to put any more responsibility in the SSFC, particularly ASM policy. In fact, I’d like to roll some back and make SSFC less important in the ASM Budget.

I really want to change the name of the Finance Committee to be more descriptive of what they do – maybe even something as uninspired as Events, Operating, and Travel Committee. I think it’d be easier for students to understand ASM if the some of the names were a little more sensible. It’d also help when trying to fill committee spots – right now, we get a ton of applications to serve on the Finance committee from Finance Majors – none of whom have a fucking idea what the ASM Finance Committee does and would never have applied if it didn’t have Finance in the name. Whenever we put these people on the committee (and we do, because oftentimes they’re very bright, just not hip on the ASM lingo) they quickly figure that they want nothing to do with it, and if we’re lucky they formally quit, otherwise they half-ass it or just don’t show up and it’s a quorum problem.

Capping the GSSF: Figure out how to do it in a VPN manner and we can think about it.

College Student Council Funding Stream: Hate it, for a very simple reason: It’s meaningless for L&S and the Graduate School, which make up the overwhelming majority of the students and neither of which will ever have a college level student council. The only colleges that want it are Engineering and CALS. When this was proposed last year, in the 15th session, the way it would work would be every student be charged, regardless if their college used the funding stream or not.

If you’re a college student council and you want seg fee funding: go to your dean and ask for differential seg fees. Leave the rest of us alone.

Stipend Bylaws – Whatever. I don’t mind the current way stipends are set, but I don’t object to making it a formula.

Internal Budget Changes – Hell Yes. First, cut out the Finance Committee entirely. They don’t do finance, they make event grants. Most FC members don’t know the first thing about the rest of ASM. The Student Council Chair should write the first draft of the budget and let Council edit it.  Then, make SSFC an up-or-down vote, no amendments. They don’t know much about ASM either, and certainly shouldn’t be making changes to the priorities the council sets. Their sole check is to make sure that ASM council isn’t doing anything egregious. However, if they don’t like say the line item for the textbook swap, too bad. Run for council instead of SSFC next time.

GSSF Wages – Why are all wages flat-rate? There are enough market-worshippers on the SSFC that I’ve never understood why they think that every job should pay exactly the same.

Vice Chair duties – I like the idea of formalizing some of the reporting responsibilities with the Vice Chair, particularly with the contracted services. I don’t have a clue what role the SSFC VC would play with Shared Gov, so I guess I’m opposed to that, until it’s better explained.

The thing that’s missing from the subcommittee discussion? My eligibility bylaw change from last fall. The first part, that would just enable applying for eligibility a year before a group had to, which would create a “rolling horizon” of eligibility. (Forget the 2nd part about making it retroactive, that’s no longer relevant). I’m pretty sure Brandon told me that SSFC would at least talk about the first part in subcommittee this spring…

Overall, Brandon and Adam have done a good job with their new blog – posts are detailed enough that they’re useful sources of information. I don’t quite agree with Adam on the SAFRA bit being attached to the reconciliation bill as a problem, but that’s more detail than I care to go into tonight.

Max is also doing a good job at getting out information. A little stream of conscious sometimes, and I’d lay off the  “I’m going to post more tomorrow” bit, but he does a good job of getting information out before he proposes something.

It’s never bothered me too much that Tyler didn’t blog much, because I’d rather the ASM Press Office did more of that. And I’ve been a lot happier with the press for the past two or three weeks – they’re actually starting to post things ahead of time, not just after the fact. However, I would like one change.  They write a beautiful email every Sunday to the campus press, detailing what’s coming up, but for some inexplicable reason they don’t post it on the blog. So, unless it tickles the fancy of the BH/DC/WSJ/CapTimes, students never know about things. This week it looks like they’ve distributed all of the information out into the the different posts, but it’d be nice to have it all in one place, posted at a consistent time.

Tomorrow’s council meeting looks pretty boring. The agenda is here. I’d expect the SSFC stipend stuff to take a long time to explain and figure out on the council floor, but with it written down ahead of time it might go easier. I don’t get the SSFC Intern Project idea: is it for this semester, or next fall? If it’s this semester, maybe I get it. If it’s the fall, then it’s pointless. By the time you get an intern in place, eligibility is mostly done, and by the time you get an intern up to speed, budget hearings would almost be done too. The intern will be useless unless he or she knows a fair amount about SSFC. If you really want to do this, find a former SSFC member (ideally, a former officer) and ask them to serve as your liaison.

I’m also happier with the language for the textbook committee, now that it’s clear they won’t be interfering with the selection of textbooks. I would never have touched it without this line:

The Committee strongly affirms the principles of academic freedom and the rights of faculty and academic staff to set curricula and select the most pedagogically appropriate course material

I’m still skeptical that it will amount to much, but I’m fine giving it a go. If we want this committee to be taken seriously, the chair should always be a faculty member.

–Going back a ways, Smathers laid things out for both this year’s council and next year’s council. I don’t take objection to anything Jason says, but I do get annoyed at something in the article. The quote is from Max, but I know the same sentiment is held by many other people on the council so I’m not aiming this at Max alone:

“It’s hard for me to find fully tangible things that we’ve done this year as a student council that benefit the student body,” Rep. Max Love told me at the beginning of his interview. “Student Council has been really administrative this year, and that’s been a problem.”

If you’re on the council and complaining about this, you’re part of the problem.

If you don’t think the council has done enough that’s tangible, well, then why haven’t you done anything tangible? The council acts through legislation, and legislation doesn’t write itself.

— There are a couple of Union names on the ballot. I’ve decided I don’t care how lame people think it is, I like “Discovery Union” and am glad it’s on the ballot. Memorial, Discovery, and the eventual West Union (circa 2025), which should have a health/healing name, I think sets up a good naming scheme incorporating broad themes, and in particular reemphasizes Memorial as being dedicated to those that have died in war. My bet is Varsity Union wins, though.

— The SJ reallocated seats for the next election. They’re right, it does need to be done, and done this year, and it’s their job to do it if Council doesn’t do it. However, that should be construed to mean that Council can’t do it, nor that they have to wait for four years to do it. I didn’t realize where we were on the allocation cycle, and would have preferred that we waited until next year to move seats around, given that we’re likely to have an amended constitution that will let us move some elections into the fall. At that time, I think it will make sense to adjust the makeup of the council, when we’ve had a chance to carefully consider not only who but when. For this year, I think the council should just pass the bylaws I proposed earlier, with an amendment to match the seat allocation as the SJ has ordered. There are times when it’s just not worth the fight, and this is one of them. Just pass the bylaw to establish the precedent that Council has a role to play here, too.

— Finally, just in a setting the record straight part, Jack yesterday had a discussion with Brian Benford about some city issues. It was a good post and I don’t have anything to say on the substance of the post , I just have to take him to task for this little throwaway:

Benford is also a UW student and was a member of student government until he left last semester to tend to a sick family member

Sorry, but Benford’s performance as an ASM council member doesn’t deserve that generous of a description. Let’s just make sure that the history is correct here: Brian attended one and a half ASM council meetings. He left at the first break as soon as he lost the Chair race and we finished up with the Vice Chair election.

Now, I certainly don’t hold it against him for leaving that night. His sister was gravely ill, and at the time didn’t seem like she had much time left (thankfully, she’s much better now).

My complaint with Benford is that when he left, after he lost the chair, he completely disappeared.  Except for two comments on Danny’s blog, we heard nothing. He said he had “dogs to walk”, and then complete radio silence.  I know that he had a job conflict with the Wednesday night meetings during the semester, but that doesn’t excuse his absences from all the summer meetings, or zero participation in any of the committees, nor did he make it to any of the events. He lost the chair, left, and never looked back.

Not everyone makes it the full year, hell, I didn’t. But I had the decency to resign when I reached the end of the things I was going to do with ASM.  We didn’t even get so much as an email explanation or apology anywhere in those nearly 6 months that Benford held a seat without attending  or doing a single thing. This was particularly frustrating, because Brian emailed council members repeated while he was running for Chair, flattering all members, and repeating how much he respected us. (See here, and here, and here, and here.) Then, nothing.

It’s too bad, because although I thought he was the wrong person for the ASM Chair, I was really excited to have him on the ASM council. He would have been a fantastic resource in ASM. (ASM Leg Affairs made the city a priority this year, and it’s been far more successful than I ever thought it would be – but imagine how much farther we’d be if we had a 2-term Alder intimately involved.) Even more importantly, I think he had an obligation to help clean up some of the mess he made when running for the chair – if you put your name forward, you do need to be prepared to see things through, and it took a long time to get past the chair election. His sister was obviously more important that night, but at some point in the 6 months after, he should have found some time. I was very disappointed that he never did.


2 comments so far

  1. Maxwell Love on

    You’re totally right and I told Smathers I was just as much part of the problem. This is why I hope to contribute to the campus in other ways and specifically as an intern in the near future.

    And yes I probably do need to stop saying I’ll post more tomorrow because generally I never get around to it. Adam and Brandon are doing a good job with their blog though! Thanks for doing the re-cap.

  2. asmwatch on

    Posting now. I really should have just started delegating this to other people.

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