In light of recent events at USF, there has been increased attention to the bureaucratic machinations within the University. One of the most important avenues for undergraduate students to advocate for change on campus is through the ASUSF Senate, which is tasked with representing the undergraduate population to the administration, often through resolutions.
Resolutions can be most likened to congressional bills. Any ASUSF senator or representative can introduce a resolution, and each of these resolutions goes through the following process:
The first step is to submit it to the advocacy committee, whose objective is to vet the resolution to ensure it is in line with Senate’s bylaws and constitution, as well as the University’s values. The committee is made up of unelected undergraduate students who volunteer to serve on the committee and is chaired by the vice president of advocacy.
The advocacy committee will suggest revisions to the resolution, which the sponsoring senator representative considers and may adapt. Once it clears the advocacy committee, the sponsor is to submit the resolution to the vice president of internal affairs, who schedules a date for it to be discussed in a Senate meeting.
The Senate constitution also calls on the sponsor to post the draft text of the resolution to Senate’s website and social media channels. The sponsor also must send a copy to the Foghorn, but this procedure has not been practiced in recent years.
After this, the resolution is to be introduced at the Senate meeting and debated. It must then stand for at least one week before the VP for internal affairs has to bring it up as an agenda item at another meeting. At that meeting, the resolution shall be discussed further and potentially amended. It will then be voted on.
If a resolution is approved, it must then be signed by the Senate president (who is granted veto power in the constitution). After the resolution is signed, its sponsor has until the following Tuesday to post a physical copy of the signed resolution to the Senate desk on the UC fourth floor. They must also post the resolution online and on social media once more and send it to the Foghorn. The latter practice has not been carried out in some time.
The Senate constitution is unclear on the exact deadline, but the sponsor is also expected to send the resolution, accompanied by a cover memo, to any relevant parties affected by the resolution. The resolution and memo must also be sent to the director of Student Life and Engagement, the assistant vice provost for student engagement, the vice provost for student life, the Senate advisor, the student government assistant, and all active Senate representatives.
The Board of Trustees holds the final say on any Senate resolutions. For instance, in the spring of 2018, ASUSF Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling for all restroom facilities on campus to be converted to gender-inclusive spaces. The Board of Trustees rejected the resolution, expressing concerns over those who may be uncomfortable with the removal of gendered spaces.
Senate has passed one resolution so far this academic year: Resolution No. 19-20-01: Resolved Commitment to Voter Engagement at USF, which proposed to allow students excused absences to vote in local, state, and federal elections. The resolution was submitted by then-senior class representative Cassie Murphy, who is now the VP of internal affairs — it is now awaiting a vote from the Board of Trustees.
On the agenda for the Nov. 13 Senate meeting were four resolutions to be introduced: Accommodations Requests in the Housing Process, sponsored by Students with Disabilities Representative Marisol Castro; Student Satisfactions and Food Insecurity Survey Resolution, sponsored by Junior Class Representative John Iosefo; Food Pantry Support Resolution, also sponsored by Iosefo; and Native Plants Resolution sponsored by Sophomore Class Representative Chloe Famighetti.
The texts of these four resolutions had not been made available to the Foghorn at the time of publication.
It is also not clear how strictly the constitution applies to Senate resolutions. The constitution also calls for Senate to meet on Tuesday evenings — this year, Senate rescheduled their weekly meetings to Wednesday evenings. A (very) exact reading of the constitution would suggest that all Senate business this year has been unconstitutional and therefore invalid. Similarly, the failure to share resolutions with the Foghorn could render Res. No. 19-20-01 invalid.
Weekly Senate meetings are held on Wednesday evenings from 5-7 p.m. in the Fromm Berman Room (unless otherwise noted on the Senate website) and are a public forum, meaning that anybody can attend them.
This story reflects a correction.