ASUU?s quick passage of senior gift troubling

By By Joseph Simmons

By Joseph Simmons

Regardless of whether the east plaza outside the Marriott Library needs to be reimagined, the Associated Students of the University of Utah’s handling of the proposal so far is troubling.

After being debated in the ASUU Senate at length, the project proposal was sent to the ASUU Assembly to be voted on Tuesday night. The timing of this vote is a bit suspect, as it could easily be interpreted as our student leaders trying to quickly slip approval past the student body as it left for Thanksgiving Break.

However, the timing is probably the least worrisome issue.

In the Senate discussion, there were other ideas proposed on how to spend the $20,000, and even though the “Re-imagining the Plaza” project ultimately passed, there was at least one ASUU senator who abstained.

When senior class President Erica Andersen took the idea to the Assembly, she described the $20,000 for the project as a “baseline sum.”

One would think that this would cause a flurry of questions from Assembly members, especially given that the project isn’t even designed yet and could cost significantly more than $20,000. Meanwhile, the source of any additional money is still up in the air.

Yet it seemed as though no one in the Assembly found the issue important enough to ask about or debate, and it was passed unanimously without any specific budget. There wasn’t even one dissenting vote among the Assembly. The bulk of time spent was discussing how to deal with budget problems surrounding the men’s volleyball club team.

This is one instance where the Assembly messed up big time, and there are enough concerns surrounding the senior gift that it should be sent back to the drawing board. ASUU has made some gaffes in drawing up the project. Certainly it was worth even one question? One comment? Even a little discussion?

First, Andersen said that she hopes to raise a total of $40,000 for the project, and she said some of that money could possibly come from the student fees collected this year for the Sustainability Campus Initiative. Red flag for discussion. Apparently no one in the Assembly found this at all curious.

The plaza outside the library could present some very particular design concerns, namely structural concerns surrounding weight limits and any foundation requirements for the design. It is, after all, being built on a plaza that also happens to be a roof in the newly-renovated library. Basically, no actual major construction could take place. Any changes would be surface-level only.

Granted, design requirements might make it impossible to propose an exact budget. Still, at the very least the Senate and Assembly shouldn’t have passed the proposal without even discussing a cap and the validity of utilizing funds from the Sustainability Initiative.
The proposal still needs to go to ASUU President Tayler Clough for final approval. He shouldn’t approve it without a more specific budget that includes a cap on spending. In the future, the Assembly needs to take notice of all budget issues, particularly ones that potentially could cost a good deal of money.

ASUU is set up to ensure that proposals like this are approved or denied after discussion and debate, and Assembly members would do well to start asking questions instead of giving silent consent.

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