Sunday, May 27

USAC to vote on adding member to subcommittee

Undergraduate student government officers will soon decide whether or not to add a voting member to a subcommittee that recommends presidential appointments for approval.

The proposal originated from concerns over the accountability and efficiency of the Appointments Review Committee, a subcommittee of the Undergraduate Students Association Council that interviews and evaluates candidates for various USAC-appointed positions initially put forward by the USAC president.

The Constitutional Review Committee, which reviews and updates USAC bylaws, voted Wednesday to forward a proposal to the council to amend the bylaws and create an alternate position for the Appointments Review Committee.

The alternate would be a USAC council member, chosen by the USAC president and approved by the council, who would vote when there are not enough voting members available, said Anees Hasnain, community service commissioner and constitutional review committee chair.

USAC will vote on the bylaw change at its weekly meeting during the first week of winter quarter, Hasnain said. If the council approves the proposal, this will be its first major bylaw change of the year, she added. The council only made one bylaw change last year, said Andrea Hester, USAC internal vice president.

The Appointments Review Committee currently has four members, only three of whom can vote to recommend candidates to the council, while the USAC finance committee chair, Cynthia Jasso, serves as an ex-officio, non-voting member.

Three committee members are required to be present at reviews for each of the roughly 70 appointments the committee evaluates each year, according to USAC bylaws.

The committee, however, has had difficulty finding times when enough members could meet to vote on a candidate ““ sometimes leading to the delay of time-sensitive appointments, said Taylor Mason, USAC cultural affairs commissioner and voting member of the appointment committee.

Often, only two voting members are able to meet at the same time to review an appointee, several committee members said. In these cases, Jasso’s presence as a third member allowed the committee to meet quorum, the minimum number of members required to continue conducting meetings.

As an ex-officio member, Jasso cannot vote on any appointments.

“Appointments need to happen as soon as possible,” Mason said. “We wanted (to have) an alternate … to make it easier not just to have a quorum but actually a well-rounded voting process and a well-rounded decision-making process.”

Stephen Kraman, facilities commissioner and voting member of the Appointments Review Committee, said having only two voting members is not ideal, though Jasso as a third, non-voting member helps check the opinions of the voting members.

But having only two out of three voting members can also create issues of accountability with some committee decisions, said Jasso, who initially proposed the idea of having an alternate position for the Appointments Review Committee.

“It’s really important to keep as many (councilmembers) incorporated into the process so that it doesn’t become just a presidential appointment, because it is a USAC-wide appointment,” Jasso said.

Because only one voting member was available to meet at certain times this past summer, USAC ended up temporarily suspending the bylaws so Hasnain could act as another voting member and the Appointments Review Committee could meet quorum.

Still, the majority of the committee’s decisions to recommend or not recommend a candidate during the summer were based mainly on the opinions of only two voting members, Jasso said.

Jasso said another problem with having only two voting members is that, if there is ever a split vote, the candidate in question will get no recommendation, according to USAC bylaws.

“(The committee) can be weak when you don’t have enough people giving a clear direction as to what an appointment is,” Jasso said. “Maybe (the proposal) will allow (students) to have a bigger trust imposed on (the committee) and give us more of a direction.”

Several councilmembers said they are in favor of the proposal, and Hasnain said she anticipates it will pass when the council votes on it at the beginning of winter quarter.

Email Taketa at [email protected].

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