Many Associated Student Government (ASG) senators failed to fulfill their duties to attend senate session, committee meetings and office hours this semester.
Attendance has declined as the semester progressed, bringing two senate sessions to a halt, casting doubt during senate leadership elections and leading to articles of impeachment in one case.
There are 45 senators total, though the number has fluctuated throughout the semester as senators resigned and elections were held. According to ASG’s bylaws, senate must have quorum to conduct business, meaning that at least 23 senators need to be present to pass legislation or hold elections. If a quorum check is requested by a senator and less than 23 senators are in attendance, ASG is forced to adjourn.
The most egregious example of this was the March 19 senate session, when only 21 senators were present. Because the legislation set to be debated that evening was time-sensitive, senators called their friends and roommates and searched for students studying in Armstrong to round up enough alternates in order to avoid adjourning the meeting.
During the senate sessions on April 16 and 23, when elections for next year’s executive cabinet were held, attendance was also lacking. An official quorum check was called once each meeting and during both sessions quorum was unofficially questioned multiple times.
By the end of the April 23 meeting, Speaker of Senate Cole Hankins encouraged senate not to call for an official check, for fear not enough senators would be present and ASG would be required to adjourn.
“I am extremely disappointed in the lack of attendance and, frankly, care, that many senators have displayed throughout this whole year,” Shelby Frye, an academic senator, said. “To see senators leave Cabinet elections, which are incredibly important in shaping the work that ASG will do next year, is disheartening, to say the least. The student body deserves better than that.”
Though senate session began with more than enough senators each week, as it went on more and more senators would leave the chamber. At times, senators even posted on social media that they were out socializing instead of going to senate session, according to Frye and other senators in the chamber.
“This is so embarrassing,” Student Body President Meaghan Murtagh said of the attendance at April 23’s meeting.
The April 23 quorum check, at ASG’s penultimate meeting, revealed the attendance issues to the Student Body President elect Jaylen Perkins and Vice President elect Dante Rossi, neither of whom had served in ASG before.
“Tonight was a little bit disappointing,” Rossi said to the senators. “I’m talking about holding your fellow senators accountable. I’m seeing Snapchat and Instagram stories, and they’re Uptown right now. Jaylen and I don’t even have voting rights, and we’ve been here for four hours.”
Executive cabinet is not required to be present during senate session as they have their own meetings. A few members made it a priority nonetheless.
Secretary for Communications and Media Relations Michael Zele attended every meeting, as did Secretary for On-Campus Affairs Effie Fraley. Secretary for Off-Campus Affairs Charles Kennick and Secretary for Infrastructure and Sustainability Molly O’Donnell also made frequent appearances, but these were the only members of the 13-person executive cabinet that attended and stayed throughout senate session with any regularity.