Written reports no more for MMC senators

Photo by Kristi Camara

By: Angelise Petrillo/Contributing Writer

Senators at the Student Government Council at Modesto Maidique Campus can now check off weekly reports from their to-do list, forever.

During their Oct. 3 meeting the senate passed SR 1106, a new bill that states weekly written reports are no longer necessary if the senator is present during the senate meeting to give an oral report. The bill, which received only one vote against, also points out that if a senator is absent he/she must turn in a written report for that week.

Fernando Pinheiro, senator for the College of Engineering, proposed this bill because he had two concerns: redundancy and attendance.

“Senators who are constantly present at our meeting on Mondays and regularly give oral reports to have to write something every single week for the speaker,” Pinheiro said.

Pinheiro’s bill is also aimed at senators who are sometimes absent from senate meetings.

“Senators who sometimes might skip the meeting would now double think since this written report is required, this would only improve our attendance at senate and therefore the chances of meeting quorum,” Pinheiro said.

Per senate statutes, senators who make from $800 to $3,250 per school year are permitted to miss two meetings per semester. So far, there have been only four meetings and at least 11 absences have occurred.

Donovan Dawson, speaker of the senate and a senator for College of Arts & Sciences, explained that if a senator falls into non-compliance, a grievance will be filed by senate leadership against them.

“They are all well aware of that,” Dawson said.

Dawson also expressed concern for last year’s bill requiring weekly written reports.

“When I was in the senate last year I raised concerns regarding the redundancy of the [weekly] reports and was against having the provision placed in the reform bills that were introduced.”

As speaker, Dawson felt it was necessary to try and change the bill that was passed last year.

At a Rules, Legislation and Judiciary Committee meeting, Dawson expressed his concerns regarding last year’s provision. Dawson said the “members of the committee agreed with me and [SR 1106] was produced.”

Even with last year’s bill in place and prior to SR1106’s introduction, there have been no written reports so far for this school year.

“I did not enforce the requirement for every senator to submit a written report before every meeting because I thought it was very redundant,” Dawson said.

Dawson also agreed with SR 1106 because senators may have considered the weekly reports as busy work.

“[The weekly reports] may have been lacking in substance and simply composed to appease senate leadership and to get by,” he said.

Giving reports orally, as the senate did in prior years, is the way to continue, according to Dawson.

According to the SGA constitution, every senator is required to submit a written report twice a semester, at the mid-term and final exam, with the first report due from every senator on Oct. 21. These reports are to include details of bills sponsored, goals, accomplishments, meetings with administration and so on.

“If a senator is not fulfilling their duties, the speaker will be able to recognize that by the lack of action/improvements in his/her report,” Pinheiro said.

However, Giovanni Correale, a senator for College of Arts and Science and chairman of the finance committee, was the only senator to vote against the new bill.

“My main issue is I have noticed in the past, in our senate we take 30-40 minutes to go over all of the reports, sometimes even an hour,” Correale said. “In the past that has been valuable time that could be used to debate on the worth of a candidate or a bill that we then may have had to table.”

At the beginning of every meeting, the senate must review the minutes, a record of what happened from the week before. Correale proposed an idea to the senate in regard to the new bill, which was rejected.

“My proposal would have been for us to submit electronic reports to the clerk, to then include in the minutes for the previous week or the agenda for the current week,” Correale said.

By doing this, Correale felt “it allows the individual senator to extract information they feel is important from the minutes/agenda and to maximize the time that we have in senate.”

The senate rejected Correale’s proposal because the entire point of the new bill was to terminate the requirement of weekly written reports.

The senate has stated that the oral reports are sufficient in proving the senators are keeping up with weekly tasks.

The oral reports will be accessible to the public through meeting recordings that can be found in the SGC-MMC office in the Graham Center and meeting minutes, which are “scheduled to be posted on our new website very soon,” said Dawson.

However, meeting minutes from this school year have not been posted thus far.

While there is concern from at least one senator on whether weekly written reports should still be the favored method of SGA, Dawson thinks it’s indicative of SGC-MMC’s new direction.

“[SR 1106] simply removes what I believe is an excessive provision composed at a time [last year] when SGA was more divided within itself than focusing externally on helping to improve the lives of the students who sent us here to serve them.”

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