SA passed five different bills during its last meeting of the fall semester. Two of them had to do with improvements in the Student Union, while the other three had to do with reforming the way SA works.
One of the bills for the Student Union, titled “A More Perfect Union,” calls for a system with which people could check the availability of rooms to check-out in the Student Union. According to the report from the Student Investigative Committee (SIC) during the senate meeting, the Union’s administration was hoping SA would not pursue this resolution since apparently posting the information online has complications. The resolution calling for the online system recognizes that “implementation may be difficult.” As of this writing, such a system does not appear to be online.
The other Student Union bill was to put lockers in the commuter lounge. The resolution was authored by Anna Rouw, a senator for the residence halls. According to Jennifer Steere, who represents the Arts and Sciences College, putting the lockers into the commuter lounge wouldn’t cost much since the lockers just needed to be moved back after being removed. There are a total of twelve lockers. Students are able to check-out a locker for a semester, with priority being given to commuters but otherwise being on a first come, first served basis.
The other bills all had to do with changes to SA’s governing documents. They were all put forward by Government Operations Committee (GOC) directly, or at least by Whitney Cipolla, the GOC chair. One of them was essentially an editing of the Judicial Code in order for it to make more sense. The Judicial Code is the document that governs SA’s Judicial Council, is subject to the discretion of Senate and hadn’t been edited since April 2013. The big change was to “fix” the numbering system. Before the changes, the sections were: 1.00, 1.05, 1.10, 1.20, 1.25, 1.30, 1.35, 1.40, 1.50, 1.60 and 1.70. There is no easily apparent reason for this numbering. That question was actually asked in Senate, and no one had any idea. Also, subsections were labeled with numbers (though without decimals). The new system labels sections with whole numbers and subsections with capital letters.
The Judicial Code was also edited to be in compliance with the SA Constitution. The Judicial Code had required a two-thirds majority for justices to be approved, while the Constitution only required a majority. The Judicial Code is now in line with that requirement. Also, justices are now required to be confirmed by Senate by the sixth week of the fall semester, rather than the first Senate meeting in October.
Another bill concerned the Judicial Procedure. In contrast to the Judicial Code, the Judicial Procedure is controlled by the Judicial Council and sets the policies regarding trials, rather than of the Judicial Council itself. As such, the bill is merely a resolution requesting that the Judicial Council make changes to the Procedure. Two of the requested changes are just a numbering change and capitalization changes. Another has to do with how things would be filed. If enacted, it would require everything to be submitted via email.
The more substantive requested changes have to do with how the records of the Judicial Council are handled. As it currently stands, all records are private and must be kept confidential without any exception. The resolution calls for it to be slightly more transparent. If the Judicial Council adopted those changes, all records would still be confidential by default unless several conditions are met. One of those conditions is that somebody actually file a request for information with the SA Secretary or Chief Justice. Another condition is that any release of information would require the consent of both parties in a case, the SA advisor and a majority of the justices. All of those individuals would have 24 hours to change their mind before information could be released. A third condition is that the Chief Justice still has full discretion not to release something, in full or in part. The Chief Justice is assigned with amending records’ confidentiality to determine “what can be released, who it can be released to, and the manner in which” records can be released. If information is to be withheld, the Chief Justice is required to respond to the person who requested it with a reason. Any violation of the confidentiality procedure would be “handled on a case-by-case basis.” According to Chief Justice Brittany Johnston, making changes is “in the works.”
The final bill amended SOC Guidelines, which govern student organizations. The changes were primarily grammatical or for clarification. One of the changes was to make SOC stand for “Student Organization Committee,” matching the actual committee that uses the acronym, rather than the more obscure “Student Organization Chartering.” Another change was to fix an ambiguity of what was meant by a “viable presence.” Last semester, TU for Bernie Sanders was denied a charter in large part because several senators didn’t think they’d be viable long term, i.e., beyond this election season. However, some senators did vote to charter them. The change makes it clear that an organization needs to have a long-term presence by explicitly stating so and also stating that an organization “must possess a purpose that stands firm regardless of time.”
Another change is to make the requirement for a faculty advisor stated in the SOC Guidelines itself. Other changes were relatively minor or purely grammatical. For instance, organizations would be required to submit a Resolution for Agency Account Form to TU before, rather than after receiving a charter, a reference to a fiscal year was changed to academic year and a petition period was changed from two to five days.