SC Live Blog: Student Legal Services Center moves forward
Download tonight’s agenda here.
The ASM Press Office just launched the ASM Agenda Explainer! Check this out for explanations of new and old legislation on the agenda tonight.
7:35 PM Roll call.
The meeting started late tonight because members were working at the Student Org Fair, and others were meeting with legislators.
Jolie Lizotte: I am speaking in support of the Resolution to Protect Student Voter Rights. If same-day registration was removed, students would only have about a month to register when they get back to school. The time it takes to reach out to students and get them registered– a month is really hard to do that. Additionally, requiring students to present an ID at the polls, with an address that matches their polling location, would be really hard for students to do.
Allie Gardner, WISPIRG Secretary: I’m here to give some updates about WISPIRG. Last semester, we registered 2500 people to vote. We got the union to have a Fair Trade section. We got many students to pledge not to buy bottled water. Our annual Energy Residents Hall competition is this semester. I would also like to voice WISPIRG’s support for the voter resolution.
Sam Seering: I’m speaking in favor of the resolution tonight to add a Government Relations Advisor to ASM staff, a paid position. I think it will help us be more effective in lobbying efforts.
- Smathers: To clarify, this position won’t actually do any lobbying. They will just help students learn how to lobby.
- Seering: Correct.
Marie Puissant, ASM Press Office Director: The Student Org Fair was successful tonight. Tomorrow, ASM is having it’s kick-off in the SEC 6-7 p.m. with cake, hot chocolate, Bucky, and Pitches and Notes.
Annaliese Eicher, representing District 5 on the County Board: I hope that when you consider this, you look into the testimonies from Kevin Kennedy, and look at what this will do for students and help us be able to vote and have the large participation that we do on UW campuses.
- Williams: It sounds like this legislation is going through. Do you have any ideas to amend the legislation?
- Eicher: Kennedy kept saying today, we know you are going to pass this, you have the votes. But if you’re going to do this, you need to be able to accept more forms of identification. I talked to a lot of legislators about adding amendments. There’s a whole lot more of it than IDs– there’s costs in terms of implementing this.
- Huang: I understand this would seriously increase bureaucracy. Do you know how much that would cost?
- Eicher: 2.5 million dollars, but that’s not counting what the Dept of Transportation would have to do to physically make access to getting an ID for qualified electors possible. Plus you’re looking at county and municipal clerks offices having to do a lot more work. So their estimate doesn’t even come close to what this will cost.
8PM Open Forum closed.
Diversity Committee: The chair said he intends to resign, but has not said anything formally.
Finance Committee (Beemsterboer): We’ve given out all our travel grants, so those are closed. We are looking at revising our criteria to make them more rigid. Also, the creative works fund is dead.
- Manes: Should we take the Creative Works Fund out of our budget?
- Beemsterboer: I would recommend that.
Legislative Affairs: Chair Polstein isn’t here due to a conference call.
Nominations Board (Nichols): I really need another person on my board. We meet Monday nights every other night. Additionally, I’m working on the Shared Gov PA.
Shared Governance (VandenLangenberg): I’m looking for someone to sit on the Chancellor’s Alcohol Advisory Committee. Additionally, there has been some discrepency about who has the authority to appoint people to search and screen committees. Traditionally, ASM has had the authority, but recently that hasn’t been the case.
SAC Governing Board (Ziebell): We’re working on allocations for SAC space.
University Affairs (Fergus): We’ve been returning textbooks to students and giving them money for their textbooks that sold. We’re also looking into standardizing course retake policies, and attendance policies. Right now, professors can pick and choose what excuses from students for missing classes are acceptable. We’re also working on finding a better snow removal process that’s effective and better for the environment.
- Huang: In regards to the attendance policy, will that be standardized for lectures, with another tier for discussions, or how will that work?
- Fergus: Well, we will first be gathering student opinion. We certainly won’t be requiring all lectures to take attendance, but for lectures that do take attendance we will be standardizing what excuses must be permissible.
- Briggham Schmuhl: Have you considered how absences will be regulated for student athletes? There have been certain instructors who have basically forced students to drop classes because they missed so many classes.
- Fergus: That’s definitely something we will consider.
ASM Chair Williams: We’re finally back to full staff for ASM. I’ve been working really hard on Badger Partnership things, and I will try to keep everyone up to date by emails and my blog.
- VandenLangenberg: What will we do with the feedback we got after the Badger Partnership Forum?
- Williams: I relayed a lot of those concerns today. It’s really resource gathering at this point, because we don’t know what the proposal will look like.
- Smathers: Has diversity committee been functioning at all?
- Williams: They did begin meeting regularly toward the end of last semester. I haven’t seen anything formal, but Chair Uraga has informed of his intention to resign and he is looking for someone to fill his shoes.
- Savoy: I was on diversity committee. We had some projects in place, but once the semester ended, we weren’t contacted about it. The foundation is laid, but we haven’t been able to move forward with it.
- Brigham Schmuhl: Will we be able to recover some of the compensation for the chair, and invest that in whoever takes over the position?
- Williams: We do have some money left over there, but I think it would be against our rules to just give someone overtime. We could decide to prorate that position, or we could invest that money in diversity projects.
- Hanley: If he doesn’t resign, what is the protocol for removing him?
- Williams: Majority vote of this council. He has to be notified in advance.
- Diaz: I spoke to the chair today, and he said he would be sending a letter in the next week.
Vice Chair Johnson: We’re leaving Friday for United Council. Tonight I meant with state legislators to talk about issues and build rapport. I also talked to the Chancellor about the Shared Gov issues such as CALS, and she should be helping to fix those issues. Additionally, I think we should do something for Black History Month this year. A lot of other student government sponsor events for MLK Day and Black History Month, and we don’t. Maybe we could bring in some speakers… I’m very open to ideas. We’re going to be stepping in and making sure Diversity Committee gets something done in these last months.
- Williams: “We’re only as strong as our weakest committee. It’s our job to pick up the slack.”
- Smathers: What is the weight of the “list of principles” that ASM is coming up with?
- Wiliams: Myself, Johnson, Polstein and anyone interested will put together a list of principles that says, no matter what the Badger Partnership does, it will not touch these. If we want to be at the negotiating table, we need to get moving forward.
Student Judiciary Chief Justice Fifield: Last night SJ approved SSFC’s appeal to CFACT vs. SSFC. Also I’m proposing legislation tonight that would remove the requirement for the Chief Justice to attend Student Council meetings.
SSFC Chair Manes: Tomorrow we will be discussing the Commencement Speaker Fund. We will probably put it in the internal budget for now, and discuss a more permanent place later. The SSFC internal budget is coming up tomorrow again. We should have Student Council and SJ’s budgets next week.
Nominations: Hanley nominated representative Bulovsky to the Nominations Board. With unanimous consent, Bulovsky will be added to Nominations Board.
Chief Justice Attendance:
Explanation of legislation (from the Explainer): Essentially in the bylaws, all ex-officio members must attend Student Council meetings. Ex- officio members are mainly chairs of committees who have speaking, but not voting rights during Council. The Chief Justice position is an ex-officio member of Student Council. Chief Justice Kate Fifield argues her presence is not necessary or prudent. The Chief Justice’s job is to preside over cases generally concerning student organizations and ASM. Since the justices must remain neutral in all hearings and cases, Fifield says her attendance could be deemed controversial since she can participate in and comment on any debate or discussion. She has asked Council to negate her mandatory attendance at Student Council meetings unless she needs to present on Judiciary legislation.
Chief Justice Fifield: The most important reason that the Chief Justice should not be required to attend Student Council meetings is because the Chief Justice is not supposed to participate in Student Council proceedings. I’ve done my best to limit my participation in Student Council matters, but it’s very hard not to form an opinion on it or share it. “I think it is detrimental to the separation of powers that we need to maintain….I know a lot of you very well. I know a lot of you who have come before the court very well. And I don’t like that.” I’m very good at separating that from my decisions, but it’s hard.
- Manes: If we do this, will we be severing the last tie between the Chief Justice and the Student Council? I think the lack of communication flow from ASM to SJ would create unforeseen problems.
- Fifield: I don’t think it should be that difficult for the leadership in this organization to work together outside of mandatory attendance policies.
- Smathers: So you plan on still delivering reports to ASM?
- Fifield: Yes.
Q & A closed. This will be examined again next week.
Yet Another Bylaw Change
Explanation of legislation (from the Explainer): Bringing up a minor discrepancy in the bylaws, Tyler Junger noted in the Accountability requirements it states groups can not violate ASM financial policies and UW System financial policies. This does not cover UW-Madison specific financial policies. No groups have been in violation pertaining to this loophole, but Junger wanted to make sure it would not come up in future financial cases.
Junger: I noticed this and thought, damn it, I have to submit another bylaw change.
This will be examined again next week.
Resolution to Protect Voter Rights
Explanation of legislation (from the Explainer): There has been discussion for possible state legislation that would end same day voter registration. This means students who go to the polls would need to be registered in advance of voting, which can be inconvenient. Also, Senate Bill 6, which is currently under consideration, would require eligible electors who are attempting to register or to vote on Election Day to present valid Wisconsin identification. The address on the ID must match the address that students are voting at. Many students with Wisconsin IDs have a different address on their ID, their hometown address, then where they live during the school year. It would be a hassle and an expense to change the address or get a new ID each time a student moves. This resolution asks Council, and effectively all of ASM, to oppose any law that could end same day voter registration and oppose the required photo identification to vote, of Senate Bill 6. These stipulations could potential decrease student voter turnout which would impede on the democratic process.
Polstein: Getting rid of same-day voting, and requiring presentation of ID with an address in the polling area will be really detrimental to student voting and democracy in general. A lot of the reasoning behind this is to get rid of voter fraud, but I don’t think that’s a valid motivation because there are very low voter fraud rates in Wisconsin.
- Huang: I think it would be good to amend the legislation to allow voters to present more forms of ID than a driver’s license, such as a student ID. Also, it’s very difficult to get students to register to vote a month in advance. Students should be able to register to vote on voting day.
- Johnson: There are a lot of students who will only vote if you can get them that day and they can show their ID. This would hinder student voting. So regardless of whether you are conservative or liberal, you should support this. If you oppose this resolution, you are against student voting.
- Smathers: Is it possible this could get voted on before our next meeting?
- Johnson: Probably not; that would be incredibly fast.
This will be examined again next week. Close new business. On to old business.
Student Legal Services Center Endorsement
Explanation of legislation (from the Explainer): This piece of legislation, if approved tonight, would say that ASM endorses a Legal Services Center for students on the UW-Madison campus. And further that Student Council will create a Special Tasks Group to develop a Student Legal Services Center model and forward their recommendation to Student Council and SSFC.
Manes: Both student newspapers have expressed support for this. Please approve this so we can get moving.
- Junger: I will be voting for this, but I have some issues with how this has proceeded. There’s been an emphasis placed on “getting things done” in ASM this year, and sometimes it’s important to slow down. This idea is great for students, but it’s important to have a broader conversation about this here. We have to consider how students are going to be able to use this.
- Smathers: I think the speed is necessary, but I understand what Junger is saying. There are implications of how this could affect ASM. We initially looked at this as a way to give the Legal Information Center some institutionalization. The LIC is very limited; they can’t even site case law. How is it any different from anything I can go and look up myself? I understand Junger’s trepidation, but all we’re saying here is that we endorse the idea.
VandenLangenberg motions to amend the membership of the Special Tasks Group to make it consist of three SC members appointed by the body (instead of by the chair) and three SSFC representatives appointed by SSFC (instead of by the chair). “All of the members of this body should have equal opportunity to make their case to be on the task force.”
- Manes: I’m going to voice my extreme dissent with this. The idea that everyone should have an equal say in every part of this organization is, in my opinion, codswallop. In some cases, you need the people involved who really know what’s going on. When I say we’re on a timeline, we’re really on a timeline. If we don’t get on this by the beginning of April, it dies. The top-down approach to appointing people is necessary. We really need people who will step up and do the work. We can move forward, and we don’t have to worry about fighting. “There’s a difference between checks, and getting the work done.”
- Junger: “There’s a fine line between synergy and group think….If you’re offering council a way to take the power out of the hands of one individual, they’re going to do it.
VandenLangenberg’s motion passes. Back into debate on the endorsement.
- Williams: This really gives the Student Council a chance to say there’s a void of service on this campus. This doesn’t say we’re going to do it. It just says we support the idea, and we want to put together a task group.
Williams calls the question. The resolution passes.
Nominations are now open for three positions on the Special Tasks Force. Representatives Junger, Williams, Niebart, and Plamann all nominated themselves.
Junger: I want to make sure this is done right, and make sure students aren’t able to abuse this and use it against other students. I think I’ve had enough time on campus to understand what will be best for students.
Williams: At the beginning of the semester, I said that if we don’t do something for legal services on this campus, this semester will be a failure. I’m on a pre-law track, and I would like to continue to be involved in it when it is up and running.
Niebart: There are many forms this center could take. I’ve been looking into the different forms it could take, and I’ve been looking for space for where this center could be. I think it would be beneficial to nominate me since I’m already looking into it.
Plamann: I am from the law school and work closely with the LIC as is, so I would be able to help integrate the LIC with whatever this becomes. I’m very aware of constraints that law students are under, and I think I’m in a unique position to work on this.
- Manes: Seeing as Junger and Williams are not on SSFC, I request that you at least give the two of them your votes.
Vote: Junger, Williams, and Plamann will be the representatives on the Special Tasks Force.
The “Internal Budget Extension” and “Government Relations Adviser” were passed by unanimous consent.
1o PM Meeting adjourned.