Photo courtesy of Brett Bolton

Low general assembly attendance raises questions of legitimacy

Photo courtesy of Brett Bolton As of the next meeting, there are 17 active voting members of the General Assembly. According to the constitution ...

Apr 20, 2013

Photo courtesy of Brett Bolton
As of the next meeting, there are 17 active voting members of the General Assembly. According to the constitution section VII, if one-third of the executive board is dissatisfied with a motion that has been brought up, they can move to have it sent to the GA to be voted upon. Once at this stage, only a simple majority, or nine students, is necessary to pass a motion. All of a sudden, the eight students who showed up to hear about the runaway success of Yalla! and the latest update from Student Government Vice President and sophomore Corey Meyer about the fixed Nespresso machine, have more power than they anticipated.
The third GA of President Leah Reynolds’ Student Government administration took place on Sunday, April 14 at 7:50 p.m. in room 522. Refreshments, this time soda and macaroons, were available as always; however, the student body did not seem hungry for dialogue, let alone sugary treats. The assembly moved slowly as Meyer discussed the uncontroversial Book Recycle/Re-use initiative that aims to have Magrudy’s buyback and re-sell well-maintained class textbooks in order to cut down on paper wastage. Treasurer and freshman Angelina Micha-Djaja’s quarterly budget also remained uncontended despite complaints about funding from SIG leaders early in the semester. According to the report, non-athletic SIGs are yet to spend 66 percent of their allotted budgets and in total the student government still has 59 percent of their funds. With the contribution to the May 10th Purple and White Dance already paid for, the remaining money is intended to be spent on services, subscription renewals and programming.
Senator and freshman Geo Kamus’ presentation focused mainly on the International Ambassadors Program, which aims to help students learn more about the Global Network University. Kamus conceded that the Spring 2013 ambassadors will be announced very soon after the unfortunate loss of communication with study abroad sites and transitional difficulties. Kamus also announced that he and junior Nicole López Del Carril would host a dinner for the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Scholars and students from other universities in Abu Dhabi in order to create a place for informal conversation about social entrepreneurship and community building.
The energy picked up when the Poster Policy and Community Code were brought to the table. Assistant Director for Student Life Victor Lindsay and Dean of Students Julie Avina were present upon invitation from the Executive Board. In the end though, the debate failed to amount to anything substantial and instead moved to a virtual general assembly on Facebook where students posted their opinions. It seems as though Facebook remains the only platform where students are willing to come together and discuss issues regarding student government. GAs, despite enticing offers of macaroons and soda, remain void of student participation while most dialogue takes place on the internet.
Reynolds admitted that the atmosphere of GAs is not ideal and vehemently wants them to be “more engaging” and “a forum for discussion and feedback, not just presentation.” She added, “if only 10 people are attending they're not representative” and that if people valued student self-governance they should attend the next GA as it is “still one of the clearest ways we have to make your voice heard.”
The government is looking at numerous policies to increase numbers such as enforcing committee members to attend general assemblies, allowing 10 minutes at the end for student announcements and holding more informal meetings such as Pancakes with Corey. This informal event, that aimed to promote discussion of policies or problems over food, occurred on Friday, April 19 in 10th-floor lounge with nearly no freshman representation. Once student government can reclaim common ground and stop meeting in bizarre locations such as the dining hall, the general assemblies should receive a boost in numbers.
Freshman Moiri Gamboni, a computer science major, offered a suggestion for engaging more students.
“I guess if I didn't have to be present I might be more interested,” Gamboni said. “Like [an] online voting/opinion system or something.” And yes, his opinion was obtained via Facebook chat.
Daniel Brown is contributing writer. Email him at
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