Last night’s weekly Associated Students Senate meeting saw the proposal for a resolution that would effectively limit the duration of meetings, launching student senators and executive officers into a lengthy debate on the benefits and drawbacks of cutting meeting times for greater “productivity.”
Penned by on-campus senator Mac Kennedy and off- campus senator Tuquan Harrison, a bill entitled “Resolution to Maximize Senate Meeting” was presented as an effort to provide what it called increased productivity by requiring meeting times to end by 9:45 p.m. and limiting the duration of executive officer reports and senate discussions.
While some senators asserted that meetings exceeding five hours in length detract from the overall efficiency and well- being of the Senate, other students — including all executive officers — argued that longer meetings are sometimes neces- sary, despite occasionally imposing unpleasant infringements on the schedules and personal health of A.S. members.
The bill cites a lack of Senate efficiency and enthusiasm as the main reason meetings should end earlier and potentially push unfinished tasks into later weeks.
“The consistently inordinate length of weekly Senate meetings drastically hinders Senate productivity, passion for the job and our ability to be excellent student leaders,” the bill states.
In defense of his proposal, Kennedy argued that the bill could result in other changes more agreeable to the needs of Senate members. He added that the resignations of eightsenators during Fall quarter were likely due to the extensive length of meetings, which end anytime between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. with last night’s meeting coming to a close at 9 p.m.
“We figured we needed to change the culture of the Senate,” Kennedy said, referring to himself and Harrison. “I don’t think this bill is an end-all but I think it’s a really good start.”
Despite the support of several senators, the bill faced adamant opposition from executive officers and some Public Forum speakers. A.S. President Sophia Armen voiced con- cerns about A.S. members’ dedication and accountability, stating that Senate should not be treated as an easy job and senators should willingly listen to the input of all public forum speakers.
“This job is hard. You should have all known that going in,” Armen said. “In my opinion, the most people we should be listening to are the people who walk in here … If any of you are resigning because of this — that is unacceptable…The reality is, it’s not about enjoying.”
Internal Vice President Mayra Segoviap said in her past meetings with A.S. organizations of other schools, there were noticeably fewer resignations.
On the other hand, on-campus senator Kevin Rudolph voiced his support by claiming that other schools had similar time limits, adding that long meetings cause him to question his own dedication to the group.
“Honestly, to come here, I love what I’m doing but this meeting is most of the time a burden and it’s very unproduc- tive,” Rudolph said. “I know that other schools have time limits or things like that. I would like to see this [bill] passed.”
In response to such claims, Armen said students should maintain better focus or initiate more efficient practices in meetings instead of simply slashing meeting times.
“The problem is that half of the discussion going on in this room isn’t even the projects,” Armen said. “Instead of having 25 minutes of discussion on productivity, why not actually be productive?”
Adeel Lakhani, who acts as the Commissioner of Academic Affairs in the A.S. Office of the President, rec- ognized the importance of reducing stress for senators but agreed that longer meetings can be necessary to ensure that all business is finished.
“I do recognize that there is a need to retain senators and make the job easier,” Lakhani said. “But sometimes a four- and-a-half hour meeting isn’t long enough for Senate business … Your meetings take time and your discussions are tough because that’s the nature of what comes to you.”
Senators resolved to table — essentially postpone — the bill indefinitely. However, there was agreement that A.S. members would spend time at future meetings brainstorming and discussing new methods of increasing productivity and decreasing meeting length.
A version of this article appeared on page 5 of January 10, 2013′s print edition of the Nexus.