AS Beat Reporter
The Associated Students Senate tabled a bill last Wednesday, Jan. 9, that would create a time limit on their weekly meetings.
The meetings, which have lasted until 4 a.m., would have to stop at 9:45 p.m. and all unfinished business would be postponed until the next meeting.
The writers of the bill, second-year On-Campus Senator Patrick “Mac” Kennedy and Off-Campus Senator Taquan “Taco” Harrison, believed that the length of the meetings decreased productivity.
“We need to change the culture of the Senate and to help spur a culture of productivity and be aware of what we are doing and try to maximize our productivity and what we can do for this campus,” said Kennedy. “I don’t think this bill that we wrote is end-all, be-all, but I think it’s a really good start to get us in the right direction in having a positive, modest change to make the Senate more productive and more accountable to the students.”
Much of the opposition of the bill came from students in the audience of the meeting and AS President Sophia Armen. Their opinions were that a time limit would decrease the time allotted for students to speak at the meetings.
“In my opinion, the most people we should be listening to is ultimately the people who walk in this room,” said Armen. “If they wanted to take two hours, honestly, as a senator, I would motion to them. Because we’re not here for our personal agenda, we’re here to listen to what they have to say and to be a channel for that, for that change and to make decisions on behalf of that.”
Kennedy, however, believes that shorter meetings will actually be better for students overall.
“We’re doing a disservice to the student body by not having productive meetings,” said Kennedy. “I think having some kind of pressure will help stimulate a more productive culture.”
Although the writers believe that the time limit must be implemented first and productivity will come after, others think the opposite is true.
“The main issue that I have with this bill is that it does not seem to address the root problems,” External Co-Chair of Academic Affairs Board third-year Adeel Lakhani said. “I agree that time is not the relevant factor, it’s just an extra correlate when people are arguing or people don’t understand something. A lot of times there was a lot of personal stuff going on behind questions.”
Although a final decision was not reached, the Senate said they would continue discussing it and hopefully come to some decision regarding productivity.
AS Internal Vice President Mayra Segovia said she recently had meetings with leaders of Senates of other schools such as University of California Irvine, UC Berkeley and Stanford.
According to Segovia, none of the other schools’ meetings go on as long as UCSB’s, and none of them have had as many resignations as UCSB, something that the Senate attributes to the length of the meetings.
Discussion on the length and productivity of the Senate will continue in upcoming meetings and until then there will be no limit on how long a meeting can last.
“The structure doesn’t make up the Senate,” said Armen. “The Senate makes up the Senate. You all as people make up the Senate.”