ASUAF Recap, January 24 – “Let them eat cake”: senators bid to increase involvement

ASUAF MEETINGS

Matt Mertes / Sun Star

Present: Benjamin Anderson-Agimuk, Cordero Reid, Zachry White, Sabrina Martin, and Diane Murph.

Absent Excused: Jonathan Quiñones and Ryan Cain.

Absent: Brandon Blum.

ASUAF student senators met at 4:04 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 24 in Room 204 Gruening Building. The energy in the room was that of excitement as the student organization discussed ideas to get more participation in student politics. As of now the senate has only 9 out of 14 seats filled—this is something that ASUAF wants to change.

The prospective of change brought up the topic of senator incentive in the form of monetary or non-monetary benefits. A non-monetary incentive should be the way to go, Senator Diane Murph said. Something as simple as having brownies or cookies provided for meetings might be a good way of making the position of student senator, more desirable.

There is not, as of now, a great reward for students to want to become senators, according to Senator Sabrina Martin. The only thing they can look forward to is the feeling they get from participating in the ASUAF.

While this is a great draw for some, it may be one of the reasons why involvement in student government is waning. Martin’s ideas included such incentives as tuition wavers, book waivers, or actually paying senators a small amount.

President Mathew Carrick had some major concerns with incentivizing senators stating that

“If you look at research on motivation and what motivates people, one of the things you find is that, small financial incentives actually discourage people,” Carrick said.  “With that you either have to go big or have nothing at all.”

Among other concerns are that ASUAF would be taking away some funding from other groups like travel or club funding, according to Carrick, money that would otherwise be going to fee paying students that don’t otherwise have any affiliation with the student government.

“This would encourage kind of a quote ‘wrong reasons’ to join, wear as maybe we should be focusing more on trying to get people to join for the leadership opportunities or resume building,” Carrick said.

If they were to have a small financial incentive it may actually cause participation to fall, according to Senator Reid.

“On the flip side of that, the idea of saying that, ‘you already have this, but, if you slack or you don’t do what we expect you to do, we can take it away,” Reid said.  The concern was that this may not be appropriate action for the organization.

ASUAF could start polling students or start a petition to see what students have to say on the issue, Reid said

Senator Zachary White refuted President Carrick’s concerns.

“The wrong reasons could be anything, because it seams you are arguing intent. I could have joined because I want to put this on job application,” White said.

Seeking a senate position because of a possible waiver or other financial incentive does not go hand in hand with ill intent, according to White.

If this were to be enacted, the ASUAF should not use any funds from student fee money, said Anne Williamson, ASUAF office manager and advisor.

It was instead suggested that ASUAF pull funds from an established trust—trying to give an alternative funding source that would not easily be misconstrued as abuse of senators powers.

“The trust fund board is not composed entirely of senators or ASUAF members even,” Williamson said.

This is a very sensitive topic for all the senators and they have not made any decisions on this polarizing debate. ASUAF takes this subject very seriously, and are trying their best to look at it from every angle. They are open to any student input, which may help to come to a amicable decision and rally student participation.

The meeting adjourned at 5:22pm.

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