For many on the internal board of University of Wisconsin’s student government, communication and collaboration remained critical issues up for discussion in the group’s Monday meeting.
According to Legislative Affairs Chair Daniel Statter, many issues regarding transparency are “obviously” still a problem on the council. Statter, who introduced the subject and facilitated the discussion, turned to the rest of the chairs in order to brainstorm possible solutions.
Conversation quickly focused on the nature of chair reports, which many members saw need for improvement, both in content and structure.
ASM Vice Chair Maria Giannopoulos said she tries to be “as transparent as possible” by providing detailed chair reports, adding it was up to the rest of the body to read them and ask questions.
Statter, however, reminded the body there is a difference between accountability in ASM and transparency.
Issues with transparency arose last semester in Coordinating Council with the May 4 proposal, the beginning of an alternative event to the Mifflin Street Block Party, a plan by which Statter said he was “blindsided.”
“No one should be completely and utterly blindsided on Wednesday,” Statter said, “It is not a good feeling.”
The subject of collaboration also played a role in the meeting as members discussed the format for the new bylaws, which must be written in line with the newly approved constitution.
For the sake of balance, Nominations Board Chair Sean McNally said only four grassroot committee representatives will be part of an ad hoc constitution-bylaws committee, not including either Sustainability Chair Colin Higgins or Press Office Director David Gardner.
In the spirit of communication, Student Activities Center Governing Board Chair Katie Cary offered to keep communication open between those named to the committee and those who were not.
The council also decided to change deadlines for chair reports, making them due earlier in the week in order to provide more time for members to read and ask questions about other people’s committee work.
In addition, Higgins encouraged members to hold one-on-one meetings outside of general meetings in an effort to increase communication and collaboration even further.
Similar meetings were emphasized regarding the bylaws, in order to ensure consistency and accuracy in the text between the different grassroots committees.
Student Judiciary Chief Justice Nicholas Checker also informed the body that they will be given access to ASM’s Constitutional Committee’s bylaws as a template in order to give a starting point for those unfamiliar with the format of such writing.
Although he agreed with the effort to provide a formatting structure, Gardner said he felt hesitant about providing the committee’s bylaws as the template for the body to “tweak,” noting an alternative method could create a more collaborative environment.
“It would make me uncomfortable to see ACC bylaws to be put up and then people to say: ‘How can we tweak these?’” Gardner said. “I think it would be a better and more collaborative process to say: ‘Here are the ACC bylaws, here is what we have now, here is how the constitution has changed…what is the best way to do it?’”