Questions from members of Student Council Tuesday prompted a delay on a vote of legislation that would allow first-year representation on the body, as some want further clarification on the measure.
The First-Year Involvement committee would put a non-voting first-year liaison on the body, but the legislation doesn’t make it clear who the chair of the First-Year Involvement committee would be and how a liaison for the next session could be appointed when that person, an incoming freshman, wouldn’t be on campus yet.
Shared Governance Director Jacqueline Beaulieu also pointed out that the legislation states the first year involvement committee chair would pick a successor, who would be confirmed with a three-fourths vote from Student Council. However, the rest of Council either is elected or appointed by the Nominations Board, the group that nominates ASM members for leadership positions.
When motioning for a postponement, Rep. Ethan Carpenter said he would draft “a comprehensive amendment” that would be written ahead of the next Council meeting to alleviate these issues.
Since the legislation looks to amend the Associated Students of Madison bylaws, it requires two votes. With tonight’s postponement, two votes are still needed. But ASM Chair Katrina Morrison pointed out that the measure could still be approved this session, as the committee still has two remaining meetings.
As the legislation is written, the first-year liaison could attend meetings, sponsor and amend legislation, but will not be able to vote. Currently, these students can’t sit on Student Council unless they fill a vacancy through Nominations Board.
That’s because in September, Student Judiciary — ASM’s judicial branch — made a decision to eliminate the four freshmen representative seats, which were redistributed to the Business, Engineering, Graduate and Special schools. The reapportionment happens every four years and is based on the number of students in each school or college, which can fluctuate.
“[Freshmen representatives] were a special status not given to incoming graduate students, transfer students or any other student population that was new to the university,” Chief Justice William Olson said at the time. “We reached the consensus that with reapportionment we should aim to provide equal voice to all students and not create special classes among the student body.”
In February, ASM shot down a proposal that called for a reevaluation of Student Judiciary’s decision. The legislation, put together by Reps. Dylan Resch and Mianzhi Huang, “condemns Student Judiciary’s decision to eliminate Freshmen Representative Seats.”
Resch said that eliminating first year representative seats could hinder recruitment, as fewer students are able to engage with student government early on in their college careers.
In past meetings, Resch has pointed to a big difference in voter turnout for ASM elections. While only nine percent of the entire student body voted in the the spring 2017 elections, 29 percent of the freshman class did in fall 2017.
Additionally, he has argued online programs for drinking, sexual assault and diversity turn over quickly, meaning that older students quickly become out of touch with what it’s like to be new to campus.