This past Sunday, the GUSA Senate amended its bylaws regarding the election of committee chairs, requiring that all chairs, not just the chair of the Finance and Appropriations Committee, be elected by the entire senate. Some dissenting senators worried that changing the process would allow the cliques in GUSA to form undemocratic voting blocs.
Other committees are just as important as FinApp
Before the change, only the Senate Speaker, Vice Speaker, Chair of the Finance and Appropriations committee, and the members of FinApp were elected by the entire body. Due to “SAFE reform and their responsibility over the GUSA budget,” the FinApp chair is voted on by the entire senate, explained Senator Ben Weiss (Col ‘15). “The reason Vice Speaker Nate Tisa (SFS ‘14) changed this bylaw was to make it so that all committees are of equal importance, especially now that SAFE reform is essentially over,” Weiss said. Besides creating more equality between the committees, Weiss hopes the change will encourage committee chairs to have clearly defined goals. “One of the main critiques of student life and CBO [Community Building and Outreach] is they don’t have clearly defined goals,” but with this process “chairs will have to have clear goals going into the year,” Weiss said.
Dan LaMagna doesn’t fit in with GUSA cliques
Senator Dan LaMagna (COL ‘13) raised concerns before Sunday’s vote. He describes the voting for Speaker, Vice Speaker, the Chair, and members of FinApp as a highly political process. “I do realize this is student politics and its what people are sort of in it for, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily a good thing,” LaMagna said. For him, there is no need to change the current system because it works well. “People should be electing the people who will be leading them on a weekly basis,” LaMagna explained, adding “I don’t know why I need to be voting for the chair of FinApp, [but] I can understand why we vote for the members of the committee because it does control all the money.” Senator LaMagna serves on the Student Life committee. At the meeting LaMagna and others raised concerns of power blocs forming in the senate, considering that approximately 15 senators are returning every year and would be able to, in effect, control who becomes committee chairs. “There are cliques in the Senate, and one tends to be more powerful than the other. You want to make things as democratic as possible, and I think the best way to do that is voting within committees,” LaMagna said.