The evolution of a resolution

ASUSF VP for Internal Affairs Cassie Murphy (left) and President Hector Bustos (right) address students during a students-only session of the Nov. 6 town hall. Murphy introduced the first Senate resolution of the academic year. HAYLEY BURCHER/FOGHORN

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.

2 thoughts on “The evolution of a resolution

  1. Hi what is the point of this article? In a week that has included presidential impeachment hearing, student protests in Hong Kong, and a presidential debate were you really so low on stories to write that you had to make one up? The points you bring up in this article are so minimal and nitpicky that it is absurd. Who cares what day people meet on? As you said these are members of the student body who are volunteering their time to try to improve our campus who still have a million other responsibilities to take care of so is it really that big of a deal when they meet? People are busy.

    The resolutions that are trying to pass are for the good of the whole student body and a few bureaucratic missteps are honestly better than most formal governments. The only conclusion anyone would draw from reading this reach of an article would be that the Foghorn has officially run out of things to write about.

    I really am not coming for the Foghorn or the writer of this article I just think that students should stick together. We are all facing the same problems here so lets just understand the difference between people who are trying their best as working towards good-who don’t deserve a slam piece, and those who have intentional malice.

    1. Hi Cassidy,

      Thanks for reaching out. We don’t usually make a habit of responding to comments in our capacity as Foghorn staff members, but since you framed your comment as a question for us, we thought we should give you an answer.

      Responding to your question about the point of this piece, it’s typical for the Foghorn to write “explanatory” pieces — like our story explaining USF’s $300 million capital campaign and our story about the structure of the Board of Trustees — even on busy weeks when we’re also covering breaking news stories. In the Nov. 14 issue that this story was published in, we also reported on the tuition town hall and the professional staff union protest. We’re sorry that you interpreted this piece as our being “low on stories” in a week otherwise filled with breaking news, but as ASUSF Senate is the most powerful student group on campus, it’s important for students to know about the process of passing a resolution.

      The Foghorn already published a story about a Hong Kong protest on campus, and USF doesn’t have anything to do with the impeachment hearings and the Democratic debates. Issues that do not affect USF itself are typically addressed through op-eds submitted by writers themselves, not through the news section.

      In your comment, you also talked about the “points [we] bring up” (which you described as “minimal and nitpicky”) and called the story a “slam piece.” This piece never once criticized or attacked Senate. This story wasn’t an argumentative piece, or even an opinion piece — its writer simply looked at Senate’s constitution, which is a public document, and shared the information found in it. When our writer wrote that Senate is called to meet on Tuesday evenings and send its resolutions to the Foghorn, he wasn’t stating his opinion — he was explaining Senate’s procedures as outlined by its own constitution. We do not know how this was interpreted as a “slam piece.”

      The Foghorn doesn’t have a malicious agenda against Senate, nor are we trying to “harm” Senate in any way. As a fellow student organization, we value their work deeply. In fact, we worked with several senators in the process of writing this story. Our only agenda is to provide accurate, timely, and important news and information to the USF community.

      Regards,
      Katherine Na and Hayley Burcher
      Editor in Chief and Managing Editor

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