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StuGov meeting ‘very, very uncomfortable’ amid tense discussions

Martin+Hursh+the+finance+director+for+Student+Government+talks+to+the+senators+in+the+Memorial+Union+on+Jan+23
Katarina Kotek
Martin Hursh the finance director for Student Government talks to the senators in the Memorial Union on Jan 23

Several Iowa State Student Government Senators and Vice President Quinn Margrett, a sophomore in business economics, and Speaker of the Senate Alex Cecil, a senior in agronomy, reminded the chamber of the senate and executive cabinet meeting about decorum rules.

Sen. Sydney Jones, a junior in cyber security engineering, said she was “deeply disappointed” by the behavior during Wednesday’s meeting.

“Everyone deserves to feel respected, and you should not feel uncomfortable sitting in a room,” Jones said. “I know I felt very, very uncomfortable sitting here tonight. I was not part of any of the discussion – you all know that sitting here – I felt disrespected sitting in this room.”

A similar sentiment echoed throughout speeches on decorum following the tabling of the finance bill and passage of another where Sen. Trey Wellman, a junior in agricultural and rural policy studies, repeatedly asked Cecil if the Chief of Staff Stacia Drey, a senior in journalism and mass communication, was doing her job.

GPSS Sen. Eddie Mahoney, a graduate student in computer science, was the first to mention decorum Wednesday during discussions on the finance bill by saying during the meeting they were “tip-toeing” the line of proper decorum within Robert’s Rules and encouraged Senators to read it.

The decorum issues appeared to begin during questioning about whether the allocation of funds to student organization events should be based on self-reported attendance or ID scanners, which were directed at Finance Director Martin Hursh, a sophomore in economics from Sen. Azhan Suddle.

“You can see years down the line, and a lot of times the attendance doesn’t change and it’s always a nice number, the attendance will be 200 or it’ll be 250. Dude, come on, it’s gonna be like 237 people went and it’s not going to be the same year after year after year,” Hursh said, responding to Suddle’s question.

Hursh said the finance bill also aims to prevent student organizations from receiving funds from Student Government if they can operate without them.

“If you can operate and you don’t need student government funding, you should do that, right? If you’re able to operate regardless of what the dollar figure is, even if it’s point zero one cent, right?” Hursh asked.

Mahoney responded by saying he did not have a problem with Hursh’s sentiment but rather with how the bill was currently written.

“With the way the line is currently written, it would be my understanding that if an organization had a budget surplus as simple as $10, that would be enough to render them funding ineligible,” Mahoney said.

Hursh said that the finance committee has taken the bill “very seriously” and that he was “really unhappy, quite frankly,” that there was no prior discussion in the time since the first reading passed.

In response, Mahoney said the line in question was not highlighted as a change from the preceding finance bill and that he did not know about the change until 30 minutes before the meeting.

Wellman concluded the discussion by echoing Hursh who said the finance committee was available for questions on the bill since the first reading during the last meeting.

“It should go back to finance. Everyone is welcome to come on in and to talk to us, give us ideas, whatever. So with that, I move to table the bill and send it back to finance committee for a week, I yield,” Wellman said, setting his placard down with more force than usual.

Margrett encouraged senators to ask the finance committee any questions about the bill in the next week.

“[The] finance committee has already looked at it [and] already had an opportunity to answer questions even though it’ll be referred there again next week,” Margrett said.

Later in the meeting, Wellman asked four questions to Cecil, before being cut off, if the intent of a bill to require one cabinet member to attend each meeting was about Drey failing to fulfill her responsibilities, which includes being a secretary for meetings.

Near the conclusion of the meeting, Suddle offered his comments on the decorum, saying senators should not target specific people.

“We are here to serve the students and make sure student voices are heard, and again, it’s the opinion that you are disagreeing, not the person,” Suddle said.

Cecil said they, as a group, need to work on being more cordial.

“I can hate you outside those doors, but in here, I’ll be your best friend. That’s not that hard to do. I’ve done it a lot [but] not necessarily here,” Cecil said.

Additional measures

Iowa State Student Government President Jennifer Holliday, a senior in agricultural studies, said that work on fixing the Student Government website is progressing after a plug-in was removed that prevented any edits on the page. However, she said there was no “guarantee” of getting the directory up for senators before the election, but that website has updated its chief officers and campaign pages.

A look at the Iowa State Student Government directory on Jan. 24, 2024.

Holliday also encouraged students to run for office and stressed that the final information sessions are on Thursday and Friday.

“Please consider it, encourage your friends [and] everyone in between because we make an impact, we truly do, whether you think it or not, in small and big ways. These campaigns are truly important to the whole student body,” Holliday said.

The Senate voted by unanimous consent to remove the attorney general position after Cecil and Mahoney said the position had no reason to exist.

Brenna Kelser and Jensin McMickle were appointed to fill at-large vacancies on the inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA) committee.

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