Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


ASM moves for transparency acts

ASM Chair Allie Gardner listens to debate Sunday night surrounding transparency issues on the UW campus and how the Council could address the problems. The Council looked at measures to increase access to seg fee allocations and the Council email serve.[/media-credit]

Student Council held an extra session Sunday night to debate legislation revolving around transparency issues that could not be discussed last week because of time constraints.

Legislation ensuring referenda transparency when dealing with segregated fees was passed with unanimous consent during last night’s meeting.

This legislation mandates projects placed on the student referendum provide an initial estimate of how much a new building project will initially cost students, how much students will be paying per semester in segregated fees and how long students will be paying.


Student Services Finance Committee Chair Sarah Neibart said the legislation was important, as students need to know exactly what they are voting for and how long they will be paying for it.

“Students don’t necessarily understand segregated fees and what they’re paying every semester,” Neibart said. “I think this is a problem on campus, and it’s our job to help educate.”

She emphasized the legislation is not a direct reaction to the Memorial Union Reinvestment Project, which will be put to a campuswide referendum following the council’s approval at last week’s meeting.

A separate transparent segregated university fee referendum act, guaranteeing new projects provide an estimate of their spending was also passed with unanimous consent – and will be voted on again during Wednesday’s meeting as part of the council’s normal procedure.

Rep. Tom Templeton spoke on an email transparency act, allowing listserv access to ASM members desiring it.

Members would have to notify Chair Allie Gardner in writing before being placed on the listserv that currently is sent to the majority of ASM staff and elected members, including chairs that do not sit on the council.

These individuals would have reading privileges only.

Templeton said this would ensure transparency previously promised by candidates running for the current session.

Rep. Sam Polstein agreed with Templeton’s proposal.

“This makes the body more transparent, as people more interested in ASM can easily follow what’s going on each week and what is on the agenda,” Polstein said.

Neibart opposed the legislation for two reasons, one being the confidential matters SSFC deals with concerning budget hearings and eligibility. Neibart also said she did not approve of the proposal being mandated through legislation, as students could just ask the chair to be included on the listserv.

After discussion, the motion carried.

Chief Justice Kate Fifield introduced new legislation concerning the closed session bylaws.

The Student Judiciary is the only branch of the Associated Students of Madison that is required to record all closed sessions, according to bylaw 104(3).

In a cover letter dealing with the new legislation, it is stated that this is discriminatory against the Student Judiciary, as there are six circumstances for closed sessions. SJ is included under one of these, and if SJ is included, the cover letter states the other five circumstances must be as well.

Fifield stressed that SJ is one of the most transparent bodies of ASM as all decisions made are documented and explained thoroughly.

She also made the case that SJ is in charge of making a lot of sensitive decisions, which is why a closed session is needed – and that she is a afraid future council members may use any recordings in a negative manner.

“It is my genuine fear that future councils and representatives may use these recordings in a way that is not consistent with the spirit and function of this student body,” Fifield said.

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