On Tuesday, The University of Texas at Austin’s Student Government met for their weekly assembly meeting. The attendance was relatively high, and there was a Zoom option for those wishing to attend online. The meeting lasted only 40 minutes, with three pieces of legislation being considered. There was also an election that took place for the Legislative Policy Committee Chair. The agenda can be found here. The following is what the Student Government talked about for their February 1st Student Assembly meeting:
The meeting began with the Land Acknowledgement, which is a statement read at the beginning of each assembly meeting to pay respects to various indigenous peoples and communities who had previously occupied the land of Texas. Next, the speaker welcomed the new representatives who had been selected to fill representatives’ seats who had left the assembly. Following this, the assembly approved the minutes from prior meetings. The nomination select committee for the university-wide representative then gave an update calling for assembly members to nominate potential selectees so that a decision can be made by the weekend and the approval process can be carried out in the following assembly. There were no Open Forum speakers.
Next on the agenda were representative reports beginning with University-wide Representative Inbar Turjeman. She has been focusing on legislation focused around transportation in regards to the monorail that is due to be constructed in Austin. Next, Social Work Representative Jennifer Sanchez let the assembly know that she isn’t working on anything big but will be meeting with the social work committee to discuss how she can assist them. Lastly, Representative Patrick Wang is trying to make legislation to get some sort of funding/aid to feed students via bevopay during the winter freeze. After the reports, the assembly then moved on to unfinished business.
The first thing up for unfinished business was amending AB 03: 2021-2022 Budget. The amendment added an appropriations spreadsheet so that the financial affairs committee can display how they are allocating funding to student organizations. The amendment passed unanimously. Next up was AB 13: Amending the Code of Rules and Procedures to Enact Part 1 of the SG Ethics and Reform Act of 2022. The authors and committee said that the legislation was discussed for over two hours and multiple aspects were either stripped or modified. First, quorum would be kept at 2/3rds of the assembly and excused absences from the assembly would not count against quorum, allowing the representative to cast a proxy vote. However, if a representative fails to cast a proxy vote then that would count against quorum. Next, the committee scrapped Section 5 of the legislation which handled Appeals to the Chair. The committee recommended further discussion on that section. Additionally, the committee will allow stripping of speaking privileges and allow the assembly board to create an Instagram and Twitter account so that they can publicize the legislation that is passed. Lastly, the committee inserted a mechanism to remove the speaker of the assembly and committee chairs with a 3/4ths vote. There were few questions and the authors did note that two former speakers of the assembly are cosponsoring the legislation. The legislation was then voted on and it passed unanimously.
Next on the agenda was AB 14: Amending the Code of Rules and Procedures to Enact Part 2 of the SG Ethics and Reform Act of 2022. The committee gave updates on its changes to the legislation with the number of university wide representatives being increased to 12 rather than the proposed 14. Additionally, the committee struck the question to change the constitution about quorum and there were multiple amendments that outlined ballot language for a referendum to the student body that would allow for constitutional changes. Representative Roberts outlined four questions on the referendum about line of succession, change of bylaws, and adding four University-Wide Representatives. If passed, all of the constitutional changes will come into effect in 2024. The legislation was then voted on and passed unanimously.
Next on the agenda were Executive Board Reports. The Communications Director told the assembly that she updated the website and met with her deputy to discuss plans for the upcoming week. Additionally, outreach emails and direct messages are being sent out to campus organizations. Next, the Finance Director notified the assembly that appropriations were increased $1,000 and $26,000 were appropriated to student organizations. The President then announced her plans to have Student Government week the following week to promote SG.
After executive reports came Assembly Board Reports. The Governmental Affairs committee is planning on having the joint covid statement to come out later in the week and they will be meeting with Dean Lilly to discuss campus safety and a town hall on the subject in March. The other committees had nothing significant to report. Next, came the Speaker Report who stated that he is looking for University-wide nominations, he then advertised the biweekly discussions on Tuesdays before the General Assembly for representatives to discuss legislation, and lastly he plugged the various UT mental health services. Finally, an announcement was made by Representative Roberts that he was working on legislation that would call for the cancelation of student loan debt. The speaker then gave a shout out to Clerk of the Assembly Adrian Tristan who had been working on the various minutes for the student assembly meetings. Following this, the meeting adjourned.
Sterling Mosley is the Managing Editor of The Texas Horn. He is from Prosper, Texas, and currently attends the University of Texas at Austin as a junior. He is getting a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, History, International Relations & Global Studies, and Government and is minoring in Portuguese, Business, Spanish, and Security Studies. Sterling is an officer at the Young Conservatives of Texas chapter at UT, the Vice President of International Relations & Global Studies, co-president of Intercultural Conversations, Internal Director of Students for Central and Eastern Europe, a member of the Senate of College Councils, an officer in UT Young Historians, a co-team lead for the Innovations for Peace and Development Research lab's Governance Team, and a member of the lab's Political and Economic Sovereignty Team. Outside campus, Sterling has worked with the Borgen Project as a political intern and volunteered with the David Purdue campaign in the Georgia 2021 runoff elections. Currently, he is an intern with the Leadership Institute’s development department in Arlington, Virginia, and is participating in the Heritage Foundation's Academy program.