Associated Students Senate approved a bill aimed at increasing senators’ accountability during last night’s four-hour meeting.

The newly passed bill will require senators to complete a form every quarter confirming their fulfillment of each of their senatorial duties — which include responsibilities such as holding office hours, attending Boards, Committees and Commissions meetings and completing certain trainings sessions. These forms will then be sent to the Director of Accountability in the Office of the Internal Vice President.

On-Campus Senator Miya Sommers, who authored the bill, said the goal of the action is to implement a more efficient system for ensuring that senate members are performing their duties to the best of their abilities.

Second-year political science major Anisha Ahuja, a proxy for Off-Campus Senator Genesis Herrera, added that the bill will hopefully resolve what she perceives as a general lack of effort on the senate’s part.

“I feel like a lot of people here … haven’t been doing the job with the power they were given to do this. They’re not holding office hours … they’re not going to the meetings and getting involved and taking students’ voices into account,” Ahuja said.

Several senators brought up concerns with the ambiguity of the bill. According to Off-Campus Senator Alessandra Cianni, the provisions of the bill will not necessarily lead to the desired effect.

“I don’t feel like this bill does what it says it’s going to,” Cianni said. “It doesn’t feel like a transparency issue … I just feel like we already do this each quarter with [applications for] honoraria.”

Off-Campus Senator Kyley Scarlet said she would like to see more clarification of what particular information would be required on the evaluation form before making a decision on the bill.

“I personally don’t feel comfortable passing something when I don’t know what it’s going to look like,” Scarlet said.

Senators voted to hold a twenty-minute working meeting, in which they could offer their suggestions for the bill without adhering to the formal meeting procedures. During that time, Sommers discussed the language of the bill in order to clear up some of its more vague pronouncements. Senators passed the revised bill in an 18 to 3 vote.

Senators also discussed the progress of the proposed taxicab program, which would allow UCSB students to charge cab fares to their BARC accounts. External Vice President of Local Affairs Rhandy Siordia, who spearheaded the project, said the next step in the process will be choosing a company to partner with.

“We’re at the point now where we can put a bid packet together and subsequently choose a taxi company,” Siordia said.

The Senate also approved a motion to push back the start of their weekly meetings from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in order to better accommodate Senators’ class schedules.

After adjourning last night’s meeting, Senators went into a closed meeting for an hour. The meeting’s purpose was to discuss personal matters and reduce some of the negativity and contention that has been building among senators over the last few weeks.

A version of this article appeared on page 5 of February 21st 2013′s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Benjamin Pu/Daily Nexus.