Aidan Meadows (left) senator and Brandon Goldstein (right) senator-at-large. (Scribe Archives)

Senate overlooks bylaws; last four meetings in question

February 25, 2020

The UCCS Student Government Association (SGA) holds themselves to a standard of transparency based on the content of their constitution and bylaws, which every SGA member swears an oath to follow. However, SGA senate members have operated outside of their bylaws in the last four meetings. The SGA senate meets Thursday nights and is required, according to their bylaws, to post agendas 24 hours prior to their meetings.

The senate has met four times since the start of the spring semester. At these meetings, the senate allocated an approximate total of $35,000 to clubs and organizations without making the Agendas accessible to the public on Mountain Lion Connect.

Sophomore political science and psychology double major Aidan Meadows, senator of LAS is speaker of the senate. He is responsible for posting meeting Agendas.

“That [responsibility] would fall on me primarily as speaker of the senate. I am also allowed to delegate to the pro temp,” Meadows said.

In the absence of Meadows, it is then the pro tempore’s responsibility to post the meeting agendas. The current pro tempore position belongs to senior biology major and Senator-At-Large Brandon Goldstein. Meadows has, however, been present at every meeting since the start of the semester.

“It’s important that we make it transparent because we’re working with student fund,” said Goldstein. “We want to make sure that we follow our bylaws, and we’re working in accordance with our bylaws. So, when we’re allocating these student funds, we’re doing it in a way is transparent to the student body, since it’s a fee that [students] all pay, ourselves included.” Goldstein affirmed the importance of the 24 hour window for agendas.

The inaccessible Agenda issue was brought to the attention of SGA Advisor Jon Bogh by a member of the Scribe.

When asked if the senate would have found this issue themselves, they admitted that they would not have. “Probably not to be honest,” Meadows said. “Everyone within the senate and SGA had access to see the files because they are within the organization.”

“We weren’t aware that weren’t following the bylaws because we didn’t know that that folder was not made public,” Goldstein said.

The senate has some ideas about ensuring agendas are posted before meetings in the future. “

I think that one idea is having students who aren’t in SGA check, potentially in Student Life to, again, make sure everyone has access to what we’re doing,” Goldstein said.

“Another option is to go into incognito mode and not log in and just be a member of the literal public and see if we can see it,” Bogh said.

For the time being, Meadows will also be sending future Agendas to Bogh and Senator of Innovation Stephanie Moyer and will rely on them to post the documents.

The senate planned to meet on Feb. 20 to ratify the four prior meetings’ legislation, in the event that they are found to be in violation of their bylaws. This meeting was unable to take place, however, because the agenda was not made available to the public 24 hours before the meeting. The agenda for the previous week’s meeting, Feb. 13, was posted in place of the Feb. 20 meeting agenda.

“If we are going to ratify our previous decisions, that needs to be done at a future senate meeting,” Goldstein said. “The reason we wanted to do it tonight was to take care of it as quickly as we could so, again, we are in accordance with our bylaws, therefore protecting the rights of the student body.” The senate now plans to ratify the legislation on Feb. 27.

“I want to fix it, of course, in the interest of the clubs, despite anything of [judicial board’s] decision, so that will happen next week because that’s the easiest and quickest way to make that happen,” Meadows said.

A similar issue occurred two weeks ago for the Feb. 13 meeting, when the Feb. 6 Agenda was posted in its place. Senate leadership is still looking into whether this is being caused by human error or faults with the Mountain Lion Connect platform.

A judicial review regarding the alleged bylaw violation has been submitted and the student Judicial Board will be meeting on Feb. 25 to decide if they will be hearing the review. In hearing the review, they will decide if the senate is in violation or not in violation of the UCCS SGA Constitutional Bylaws.

“The [judicial board’s]responsibility is to give an official interpretation of what those documents are. So, if you’re a strict constructionist or a loose constructionist, it all depends on how you read into the documents,” Bogh said. If you read the specific wording and take it at a letter of what it says, it says ‘post.’ They did post it. Not everybody had access and that’s where the disconnect happened, so definitely we need to clarify.”

He continued, “That’s why that judicial review is so important, so they can give a definitive ‘yes, they are in accordance with their bylaws’ or ‘no, they are not in accordance with their bylaws,’ and then recommend a fix.”