The first meeting of the newly formed UA Council convened on Tuesday with nearly all of the expected members in attendance. Though they expected to pass their constitution at this meeting, those present decided it would be best postponed until next week .
“I thought our first meeting went well,” UA President TyShaun Wynter ’13 said. “Almost all of the dorms were represented, not all of the IFC representatives were there, but the Panhel reps were. It was a really good turnout.”
The meeting was shorter and more informal than the meetings of the former UA Senate. It began with a State of the UA address from Wynter — giving an update on the status of the committees and where the UA was going to go from here — and continued with opening ceremonies that consisted of introductions of those in attendance and a discussion to ratify the interim UA constitution.
Rather than ratifying their temporary constitution, the council voted to postpone the ratification until next week’s meeting to allow time for members to propose amendments. Wynter said that there are no adverse implications to delaying the ratification vote; the temporary constitution is still in effect, and he hopes that the council will finalize it at their next meeting.
“The meeting on Tuesday went well, but naturally there are still a few administrative details to sort out before we can fully harness the power of the 25 representatives,” newly approved UA Vice President Amanda C. David ’13 said in an e-mail to The Tech. David, who was nominated by Wynter on February 6, was approved during this meeting by the minimum number of votes required.
The new council, final constitution or no, differs from the old senate in a number of ways. Most notably, the council does not have the power to pass legislation. Instead, they will pass “policy recommendations” that can be used as a source of reference whenever the administration, committees, or student groups want information on how the student body feels about any given issue. With more experienced members on the council — mostly juniors and seniors, including many of the dormitory presidents representing their respective dorms — Wynter said that they can bring a more complete view of how each population of students feels. In Wynter’s view, the legitimacy of the representatives is higher because more people in living groups tended to vote for the president than they did for the senate representatives.
“[The policy recommendation system] allows each student to have their voice heard, so we’re not leaving people out,” Wynter said.
Another initiative was to make the meetings more informal and comfortable for all involved. Wynter, David, and Alexandra M. Westbrook ’13, the representative for Random Hall on the council, all expressed that one of the amendments that will be made to the constitution will be that the council will meet less often than weekly, as is the current practice. In terms of the group’s operations, there will now be only one vote per house, and the council will be less stringent in following Robert’s Rules of Order.
“I think the setting has become more comfortable than last semester,” Westbrook said, “Since I was in the Senate only last semester, I didn’t see a lot of the old problems that they described, but I would like to see us grow and be productive as the council.”
The UA Council was convened as a result of legislation passed by the Senate in November to dissolve the Senate and restructure the central UA government under a new constitution. The numerous UA committees remained largely unaffected by the restructuring.
“[The formation of the council] is a fresh start,” David said, “It’s a beneficial to have a streamlined sources of information that is able to represent the students in a more appropriate fashion.”
The next UA Council meeting will be Tuesday, February 28th at 7:30 p.m. in W20-401.