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Saturday, June 22, 2024
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A survey administered last fall reflected distrust among student council members.

ASM looks to move forward after survey reflects discord

Following what many hailed as a turbulent 23rd session of The Associated Students of Madison, representatives in the 24th session identified feelings of distrust, ineffectiveness and discomfort among its members.

ASM members were given a survey in November of 2017, asking them to either agree, disagree or remain neutral about statements regarding council climate.

The survey was administered, “in an effort to gauge where [council is] because of the tumultuous 23rd session and what ramifications still existed in the 24th session,” ASM Chair Katrina Morrison said.

One finding revealed that 50 percent of members feel neutral toward their effectiveness within the group, something Morrison called “worrisome.”

Morrison posited that these feelings are the result of a lack of comfort or familiarity between council members.

Rep. Dylan Resch recalled uneasy feelings other members may have harbored upon his election. Endorsed by conservative group Turning Point USA, Resch said that ”when people got to know me, I would like to think that they realized [partisan politics] weren’t my intentions.”

However Morrison believes partisan issues play less of a role in council climate and don’t explain why 30 percent of representatives reported feeling uncomfortable voicing unpopular opinions.

Resch is not among that 30 percent though. He is comfortable disagreeing with others on the council and said his least favorite thing is one-sided debate, or a lack of debate on a piece of legislation.

“We are on the council to represent students,” Resch said. “If you believe you are elected to represent your opinion or if you were elected just to be a representative, you still should be expressing some sort of opinion.”

65 percent of representatives are likely to not trust the intentions of fellow members while only five percent said they trust their fellow council members.

“I was very sad to see that result, but I was not completely surprised,” Morrison said.

Resch explained that as a body, ASM has become more trustworthy and mitigated the animosity of the last session through improved communication and trust.

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He highlighted the more apolitical legislation of the 24th session, crediting the work of the equity and inclusion committee. Resch identified last session’s Boycott Divest Sanctions Legislation as a possible source for animosity, calling it “purely political.”

ASM plans on administering another survey about council climate in February.

“I don’t think that [November’s] results are indicative of where council is today,” Morrison said. “I’m excited to do another survey to see how much we’ve grown.”

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