GUSA Roundup: The importance of being quorum

Riddle me this: how many Senators does it take to reach a quorum?

Well, for a while there, no one was too sure—they just knew they didn’t have it. This Thursday, all the regulars were assembled in the Constitution Room at 9:30 ready to pass some bills when someone said the magic q-word and the room burst into a flurry of counting fingers and urgent questions. (Sample questions include: “what’s a quorum?” and  “Joe Hill resigned?!” Yup, only a month ago). Turns out our student representatives were a few Senators short of the majority needed to conduct business.

But not to worry! Some quick thinkers took the people who had resigned from the Senate off the official attendance list to reduce the total number of members. When that didn’t produce enough of an effect, Ian Hampton was called and asked to resign over speaker phone. With the Senate total at 32 and 16 members present, only one more person needed to show up so the Senate could get down to business – thank God for Tom Marty, who rolled in at about 10:00.

The barely legal Senate passed four bills last night. The first was a bill to allocate $600 to 25 Days of Service for a closing ceremony. According to the pitch several 25 Days organizers made, the project is operating on one tenth of last year’s budget.

The bill was a unanimous pass, but progress ground to a halt when Josh Mogil left to take a phone call after the vote and the Senate lost quorum. So, rather than starting official discussion, the Senate decided to have a friendly chat about the next bill until Mogil finished his call.

Bill number two was an act to institute the Summer Fellows Program as a permanent program in GUSA rather than just a pet project of GUSA’s Executive branch. Walid Khalifeh, a Deputy Chief of Staff made the pitch by dropping a list of names in the administration a mile long, all of whom were for the proposal, but Matt Wagner held out on the grounds that the program should be continued at the discretion of the President. The bill passed 12-3-1. (That’s only 16 people, while the Senate needs 17 people to conduct business. Somehow, it didn’t seem to matter).

The Senate also passed two resolutions, one thanking the recently resigned Brian Wood for his service, (which passed unanimously), and the other in support of the use of laptops in classrooms. Tyler Stone held out on laptops, claiming that if you bring a laptop to class, you inevitably goof off. He used Mike Meaney, the Senator sitting next to him, as an example: Meaney was on Facebook. In the end, the bill passed 16-1-0 with Stone as the only naysayer. Stone said sadly, “I’m the only old fashioned one,” to which another Senator responded, “He can bring his typewriter.”

New business at the end of the meeting included:

  • An election for Vice Speaker to replace Brian Wood will be held next week.
  • A call for the expulsion of six Senators for excessive absences, including: Pat Salvo, Emmanuel Hampton, CJ Lion, Alex Meyer, Matt Breen, and Joe Curran. They can be expelled between 10 and 14 days after the call for expulsion.
  • The budget that passed Wednesday’s Funding Board meeting will come before GUSA next week.

I can hardly wait!

8 Comments on “GUSA Roundup: The importance of being quorum

  1. Seems like the new Open GUSA initiative poses a bunch of quorum-related questions for the senate… what if one of the 16 absent members was watching the live feed? Could they vote via gchat? Text message? Twitter? Especially if a member can resign over speakerphone.

    I don’t know how the senate can function in such a constitutional crisis. Where is Matt Stoller when you need him?

  2. I’m sure he’s around. I don’t think Open GUSA is an initiative, per se, as much as it just a Troiano front. But can you imagine getting the call asking you to resign from GUSA? I guess you’d say yeah, more surprised than anything else.

  3. Right here, Matt (Appenfeller?)

    The GUSA constitution (http://www18.georgetown.edu/explore/organizations/gusa/?Action=ViewPage&ID=27325) doesn’t say anything about prohibiting proxy voting, though it does require a physical quorum to do business (18/35, if all Senate seats are filled).

    If I recall, the by-laws prohibit proxy voting, but technically they can be amended.

    As for the OpenGUSA project itself, would love to see it expanded and made official. Quick and easy way to get resolutions, bills and minutes up for students to see. Troiano’s doing a lot of good for the Senate.

    By the way, did GUSA ever had that conference with all the clubs to get their views on SAC?

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  6. Point of clarification. Although I love being considered a member of the executive, I am simply Chair of the GUSA Summer Fellows Steering Committee, not a deputy Chief of Staff

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