UCLA’s past undergraduate student governments have mostly worked well together at the Undergraduate Students Association Council table in regard to debating various issues or discussing proposals to changes in student policy. For those who have served at the USAC table, we know that most of the work is done away from it. However, we also realize how important it is to discuss the issues in view of the public so that we are properly held accountable for the decisions we make.
Many believe that parliamentary rules are an obfuscation to general policy consensus. However, when used appropriately, it is a very effective tool to illuminate topics brought to the table by councilmembers while still preventing any one individual from derailing the process.
Joseph Vescera’s article, “USAC considers new position after overlooking rules,” in News on April 8 is unfortunately an embarrassing status update of the regard, or rather the disregard, that USAC has for the rules it has sworn to uphold. Regular adherence to the constitution, the bylaws and normal parliamentary procedure (i.e. Robert’s Rules of Order) during uncontroversial times protects council when contentious issues come to the fore because then they are not perceived as being biased when they make an unpopular decision. The leader of an organization is supposed to set the standard of how its council operates; President John Joanino has failed in this respect, and now council is being forced to consider the position of parliamentarian to right itself again.
The author served as the USAC finance committee chair during the 2011-2012 school year.