Equal representation, schmequal schmepresentation
Last night, the ad hoc committee in charge of redistricting presented their plans to reduce the discrepancies among GUSA Senate districts sizes. The gist is that smaller districts are being consolidated but the representation per district is increasing. For instance, Harbin and Darnall, previously three districts, are now one district with three senators.
This way, the population of each district is consistent within 10% to ensure a constitutionally mandated equal representation–with one exception: Copley Hall. Copley exceeds the limits to “preserve the system in general,” according to Vice Speaker Nathaniel Tisa (SFS ’14).
That’s right: GUSA exceeded their 10% deviation using the “neighborhood cohesiveness” argument. To boot, one senator suggested scrapping this plan in favor of one that would give freshman more representation because they vote in higher numbers (and no one off-campus votes). Since [EDIT] this plan increases the number of off-campus seats to five but only four people ran in the last election
the senate now has three seats empty (constitutional violation in itself!), it would be easier to reallocate the seats to freshmen who actually, y’know, run. Anyway, the Senate might be misinterpreting that whole “equal representation” clause.
At this point, Speaker Adam Talbot (COL ’12) went there and compared these suggestions to the ongoing vaguely illegal ANC redistricting process. “The concern of whether or not we can find people to run is an institutional concern and not a representational concern,” said Talbot.
One issue brought up by Senator Laura Kresse (SFS ’12) was that, assuming that the larger districts will increase competition for Senate seats and that competitive races have tended to see less female participation, won’t this plan make GUSA even more bro-y? Maybe Kresse didn’t say it exactly like that, but this is a valid concern. But it was determined that it would be better to address GUSA’s gender disparity in other ways.
Ultimately, the redistricting bill passed as proposed.
SIPS is back
At the meeting, several members of the Social Innovation and Public Service fund steering committee presented the final proposal on how the SIPS fund would work if they received the $1.5 million from the student activities endowment.
The fund, which hopes to raise an additional $1.5 million from alumni within five years, would fund two types of projects. First they would partner with existing groups on campus, like Compass Partners, and second, they would give money to novel ideas. Young alumni (Class of 2001 and later), individual students, and student groups who do not have access to benefits would be able to apply.
One problem is that the fund might be plagued the problems the original endowment had, namely lack of university support [EDIT: SIPS has received support by the university]. According to Nick Troiano (COL ’12), the office of advancement hasn’t agreed to let them raise alumni money yet, but even without the alunmi matching, the fund would remain solvent until 2033.
Moving forward, Finance and Appropriations chair Colton Malkerson (COL ’13) announced the timeline for the referendum. Solar panels and New South have their final proposals due on the 28th of November. The senate will vote on them on December 4th, after which they will draft a referendum. The final referendum will be on January 24-26.