Eleventh-hour session sees flurry of ASUU spending

In its last meeting of the semester, the Associated Students of the University of Utah’s student assembly broke new ground.

For the first time, the 48 member panel voted to pass 10 bills in bulk without hearing debate on them individually.

Though nearly one-third of the body voted against the measure, it still met with an overwhelming majority, allowing the body to vote the “bulk bill” package through.

That cost them $11,821.75 out of the remaining $14,887.80 in the contingency fund.

However, many on the assembly defended the move, saying it was made with the best interests of students in mind.

Before being presented to the assembly Tuesday night, each of the bills underwent a month-long review session before two subcommittees, as have all bills passed throughout the year, assembly vice chairperson Andrea Muhlestein said.

“The reason why we felt tonight we had to pass them in bulk is because otherwise, it makes the subcommittees useless. If anyone had any objections to any of the bills, we pulled them off the agenda, so it wasn’t done recklessly,” she said.

But not everyone felt that way.

“I think ASUU needs to look at how they govern themselves and how they use their money,” said College of Engineering Rep. Peter Plaizier, who was one of the six of 48 representatives who voted against the measure. Plaizier suggested the Assembly and Senate begin meeting on the same night in an effort to unify the legislative process. But some policymakers said Tuesday night’s action marked an overall change in the way the legislative branch of ASUU could conduct its business.

College of Science Rep. Seth Allen said the decision to package the bills together with no debate streamlines the legislative process and enhances the system’s efficiency.

“Tonight’s decision reveals a symptom of inefficiency in the system, and it could very well spark change for the legislative body and ASUU as a whole,” he said. Assembly chairperson and student body vice president Anthony White said Tuesday’s action shouldn’t be viewed as late-semester indolence.

“This is nothing I thought the assembly would even consider, but I don’t view it as a sign of laziness. I view it as a vote of confidence that they’re representing students and have trust in each other,” he said. Among the bills passed at Tuesday’s meeting were:

*Bill No. 96, which granted $2,500 to the unmanned aerial vehicle team, on top of the $2,500 the organization received from the body last year.

*Bill No. 104, which granted $815.83 to the SAE Walking Machine Team.

*Bill No. 105, which granted $800 to the Medical Students for Balance.

*Bill No. 95, which granted $906 to the Ute Lifters Team.

College of Business Rep. Patrick Barnes was one of a handful of members voting against the move, though he said he believed voting for bills in bulk is not a threat to the veracity of ASUU’s lawmaking procedures.

“It enables us to dedicate more time to bills that are in question. It’s more of an efficiency thing. But I voted against the measure because we had new assembly members here tonight, and I wanted them to be able to see the process in action,” he said.

White said the assembly’s actions Tuesday night could set the stage for the future of the student-run assembly.

“There’s a first time for everything, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this happen again, but I wouldn’t recommend it,” he said.

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