USUAA reexamines the rule books

Students can rest assured knowing that some members of the Union of Students at the University of Alaska Anchorage are keeping a close eye on how their student fees are spent.

The bill was tabled until the following meeting, where the bill was amended again, this time for $1,750.

Three weeks ago a bill was presented before USUAA's Assembly requesting that $1,600 from USUAA's contingency budget be used to purchase a new computer and graphics software. Student government would use the computer to make flyers and promotional materials. Some assembly members thought spending that much money on a computer was not necessary. “A request to amend the originally proposed amount to $1,000, excluding software, was made, because we don't need a super top-of-the-line computer to get the job done,” Andrew Gardener a senator and finance committee member said. “Some of us thought it was a waste of money.”

“We started pricing computers online and in Anchorage, and we found that you can't buy a computer with a sufficient amount of RAM, storage space and a zip drive for $1,000,” USUAA President Mike Dingman said. “We need a quality computer that will last us several years.”

The bill was passed by a four to three vote, but three of the members who were adamant about not spending the extra money were at a debate competition in Colorado. When the absent assembly members returned to hear that $750 more would to be spent than what they wanted, they requested to revisit the bill again.

“Had the three of us been there to vote, the amendment to spend more money wouldn't have been approved,” Gardner, one of the absent assembly members said. “It was passed in direct contravention at the will of the senate.”

State law says that all bills must be presented before the assembly twice. However, some assembly members want to revisit the bill a third time, arguing that because the bill was changed, the assembly should wait until the next meeting to vote on the bill for approval.

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The bill has been put on hold, so the Rules Committee can go over the Constitution and see how the matter should be handled. However, this brings up another questionable issue. Sen. Justin Durling chair of the Rules Committee, says the Constitution doesn't give this committee the power of interpretation.

“We might have to either re-write the constitution or give our committee the power to interpret it,” Durling said. “We don't have a judicial branch in our current system, so right now our system of checks and balances is offset.”

There is no assembly meeting scheduled this week, because many assembly members will be attending the Northwest Student Leadership Conference.

The assembly currently has 11 members. USUAA will hold an open forum to discuss student fees Wednesday, Nov. 14. Students and other interested parties will have a chance to ask questions and see first-hand how their student fees are spent.