During the budget meeting last night, the Student Government voted to move to caucus on more than one occasion.
After the first caucus, the Senate moved to ignore a rule stating that only 10 minutes of caucus per session, a motion that was passed.
A caucus, as used by the senate yesterday, allowed for the senate to open discussion in private, effectively turning off the livestream and asking the gallery to leave the meeting room.
The usage of this caucus is contradictory to the spirit of a public meeting. This is the most important meeting of the senate’s year, with the members deciding the allocation of over 2 million dollars.
When discussions and decisions are made behind closed doors, it is a significant disservice to the organizations who’s funding is dependent on what is said behind said doors.
The purpose of the Student Government is to provide open discussion on issues facing students and represent them in an open and transparent forum.
At last night’s Student Government meeting, the senate called for a 20 minute long caucus, removing the viewing gallery from the meeting room. That caucus was then extended twice more, ending in a nearly 40 minute long private discussion.
While it is impossible to know what was said during that time, it can be speculated.
Prior to the 40 minute long caucus, President Reauna Stiff and Vice President Kara Svercl appealed to the senate, asking for the Student Government to increase their allocation in order to increase the stipends for president, vice president, and speaker.
After the caucus and the senate got to the decision on the Student Government budget recommendation discussion, a new amendment was quickly voted on, adding $6,000 to their recommendation in order to pay senators. A decision that was reached with remarkably little discussion.
There is no argument against the addition of the funds, instead, the argument is against the process.
It is apparent that there was discussion on the addition of these funds behind closed doors. This is, and should be unacceptable.
The entire point of the meeting is to openly and publicly discuss the funding of several areas around campus. It is unethical for the senate to speak privately on any of them, but it is especially unethical for discussion on their own budget to be discussed behind closed doors on the day of the meeting.
There is a floor for discussion, and that floor is public. The students have a right to hear what the reasoning is behind their recommendations.
Student leaders on campus deserve adequate and fair pay. However, the process to make that happen needs to be fully transparent.
Whatever was said behind these closed doors most likely impacted the senate’s decision to pass the appeal, and add more money on top of it. Students deserve to know what happened in this caucus, as it is their pocket that is being affected.