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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Council considers reforming ASM

[media-credit name=’MEGHAN CONLIN/Herald photo’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′]student-council_mc[/media-credit]After revising multiple by-laws for how the Associated Students of Madison conduct elections and allocate student fees, Student Council considered a proposal Wednesday to create a committee specifically addressing ASM reform.

According to the proposal presented by Council representatives Tim Vliestra and Sol Grosskopf, and later modified by other Council members, the ASM Reform Committee would examine various aspects of ASM in the hopes of creating a "more perfect student government."

"A vast majority of students think ASM needs some sort of reform," Vliestra told the Council during the meeting. "We can make a bigger impact."


Among the listed "breadth of reform duties" Vliestra and Grosskopf mentioned included evaluating perceived "problems" with student-segregated fees and ASM elections — two topics that have marred the work of ASM throughout the year.

At first, the proposal was met with harsh criticism from many Council representatives, who argued reform should be proposed and created through the Student Council, rather than a separate body.

"I acknowledge and recognize people have very, very valid concerns about student government," representative Sree Atluru said. "But, I feel reform should be done through the Student Council."

Representatives also identified various "holes" in the specific proposal brought forth Wednesday, such as the logistics of how such a committee would be formed and run.

However, after many Council representatives said they agreed with the spirit of the proposal, the body ultimately decided to table discussion on it until the next Council meeting.

In the meantime, representatives asked the drafters to discuss the idea with other Council representatives and develop a more refined version.

"We need to think about ways we could use this as a vehicle to forward ASM's mission," representative Jennifer Knox told the Council. "I think it's our job to really listen to students and take their opinion[s] into consideration…[A]nd I think that if we all just took a deep breath, we can come out of here with something productive."

Knox then proposed modifying some of the language to ensure the Reform Committee "actively seek" the input of the entire "diverse student body" and study the ASM Constitution thoroughly before suggesting any possible reforms.

Knox's amendment was promptly passed.

During Wednesday's meeting, the Council also approved several modifications to the ASM Constitution regarding the Student Services Finance Committee — which allocates student-segregated fees — and the Student Judiciary and the Student Election Commission — which oversee ASM elections.

The amended by-laws no longer allow SSFC members who once held a leadership position within a student organization requesting student-segregated fees to vote on any aspect of that organization's budget proposal — including any amendments to it during committee debate.

Before Wednesday's resolution, SSFC members who previously held leadership positions in an organization were prohibited from voting on just the organization's final budget, but were allowed to vote on amendments to it.

"You can come to the table with a good bias and you can come with a bad bias…and it's really important to stop those kind of people," said representative Jacqueline Goessl, who also sits on SSFC. "And if you look at SSFC amendments that are made on budgets, those votes are so much closer than on the total budget …The amendments are what it comes down to."

The Council also approved constitutional changes to how the Student Judiciary and SEC prepare for future student-government elections.

Among the changes include requiring the election commission to publish a full list of all candidates and referendums on the ASM ballot "in a public manner" at least one week prior to the start of each election.

The judiciary and commission will also now have to adopt the rules of the election regarding referendums during the semester before the election is held, and ensure those rules are "adequately published."

The constitutional changes come in the wake of a tumultuous ASM election that saw the referendum balloting erased and Student Council elections postponed twice because of technical errors in the online voting system.

SEC Chair Tim Leonard told the Council that the election commission and the Division of Information Technology are currently drafting a report on "exactly what happened, what we did to fix it, and recommendations for next year."

Leonard added the paper ballot results will most likely be available Monday.

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