SGA disagrees over open meeting law policy

| March 15, 2012

The 2011-12 class presidents take their oath at the beginning of the academic year. Photo courtesy of Corbin Peters.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Senator Ray Atkinson recently saw his legislation called The Accountability and Transparency Act tabled after months of work on what he thinks is the biggest issue in the Student Government Association (SGA).

Currently nine of the 17 UNC System universities provide the minutes to their Executive Branch meetings online and our university is not one of them.  UNC Charlotte is the fourth largest university in the system, and the three larger universities UNC Chapel Hill, NC State University and East Carolina University all provide minutes online.

All universities are required to provide minutes upon request for all Executive Branch meetings per state law.  Including meeting minutes online is not a requirement.

UNC Charlotte by-laws for the Executive Branch §2-3.6 state, “The Chief of Staff shall record the Minutes of every open meeting. In his or her absence, the Secretary for Internal Affairs shall record the Minutes. The Chief of Staff shall make these Minutes publicly available to any person who requests them.”

According to Atkinson, publicity or recording of the minutes has not occurred in about 14 years, but since this issue has been brought to the attention of the Executive Branch the current Chief of Staff, Jarret Burr, has been working to record minutes of all meetings held.

“The Dean of Students told me she has been in her position for 14 years and she has never seen the minutes posted or sent to her and she’s never seen the meeting time and location posted.  She said she didn’t see any issue with it,” said Atkinson.

The Internal Affairs Committee of the Student Senate tabled The Accountability and Transparency Act because they felt it was a personal issue that had already been resolved.

“We’ve started trying [to take minutes] when he started talking about it, but it’s a habit that we have to break.  No one has been doing it for 14 years, and we’re focused on wrapping up our work and the semester,” said Student Body Vice President Amanda Markham.

Although the Student Senate, as a majority, feels this issue remains personal there are other students who feel it is pressing and needs to be resolved.

“It’s interesting why they have overlooked them for so long.  Basically it seems like UNC Charlotte has been enabling corrupt politicians,” said Stephan Hoche, a geography major.

“What they are doing is undermining the fabric of society.  They have sworn to uphold the rule of law.  If you don’t uphold it you should be held accountable and at the very least the SGA Executive Cabinet should give a public apology for their error.  They should be made an example of.”

Another issue Atkinson included in the legislation was the failure to publicize the location and time of the meetings.  According to Atkinson, the location and time of the meetings are not known to the public and are difficult to track down.

The Executive Branch of SGA hopes to resolve this issue without any further legislation, but if the failure to provide minutes does become an issue at a later date SGA plans to revisit Atkinson’s legislation.

“If we had students coming to us and asking for things all of the time then we would think there was an issue to fix,” said Markham.

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Category:News, SGA

Twitter: @andcierasaid Personal email: cierachoate@gmail.com

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  1. Ray Atkinson says:

    Due to the statement from Student Body Vice President Amanda Markham, “we’re focused on wrapping up our work and the semester,” I do not feel anyone in the Executive Branch or the Dean of Students Office plans to resolve this issue before the Craven-Markham Administration leaves office at the end of March. In addition, I was surprised to hear no word from the Student Body President, Student Body Vice President, or Senate Advisor during their messages to the senate about the FRONT PAGE Niner Times article at senate last Thursday so they appear to be avoiding the issue and not wanting to resolve it.
     
    Markham stated “We’ve started trying [to take minutes] when he started talking about it, but it’s a habit that we have to break.” How hard is it to take minutes? I am an unpaid (yes, every member of the Executive Branch is paid) co-leader for the Geography Club and we have been creating agendas and taking minutes for every meeting since our club started last spring.
     
    Markham stated “If we had students coming to us and asking for things all of the time then we would think there was an issue to fix.” State laws and SGA by-laws are not enacted just for when people ask for them to be followed. They shall be followed at all times!

Twitter: @andcierasaid Personal email: cierachoate@gmail.com

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