Perla Luna and Erin Fox
The Santa Clara
November 16, 2017
The vandalization of the 43 missing Mexican students memorial. The Casa Italiana swastika blood incident. This paper’s own censorship. All this made for a rough year in Claradise, causing palpable unrest on campus. Now, ASG is threatening to further distance its interest from those of the campus.
During the week six meeting, ASG’s Executive Board decided to force a vote that banned all recordings of senate meetings for the rest of the academic year. This came on the heels of several weeks of discussion, of which “The Santa Clara” kept detailed recaps in an effort to understand the motivation and reasoning behind such a decision.
ASG—like any governing body—has faced issues of transparency in the past. Current ASG President Jack Herstam and Vice President Sam Perez ran on a platform promoting transparency within both ASG and the administration, according to May 2017 coverage by “The Santa Clara.”
But banning all recordings is the opposite of encouraging transparency. It seems like yet another consequence of the Turning Point USA controversy and ASG’s mishandling of it.
On Feb. 8, 2017 national TPUSA founder and executive director Charlie Kirk was featured on a Fox News segment covering Santa Clara’s decision to deny TPUSA RSO status. The segment featured clips from ASG proceedings, augmenting fears that the words of senators could be manipulated if any third party was permitted to record.
Fear of misrepresentation seems to be one of the major driving forces behind the recording ban. But this decision is not the right way to assuage those fears, nor will it foster a sense of investment among the student body. It’s easier to be misunderstood when there is no information being provided.
ASG minutes are supposedly provided in a weekly, campus-wide email, but the link provided in their emails only leads to outdated meeting information from weeks two and three. This is not enough.
If a news reporter is able (correction—used to be able) to record an entire ASG meeting, transcribe it, write an article and submit it to be published in a turnaround period of five days, why can’t ASG do the same? An ASG senator has mentioned fellow members do receive the previous week’s minutes on Wednesday nights, a day before their meeting.
If Senate is obtaining the minutes in a weekly manner, why isn’t the rest of the student body?
Moreover, claiming that the recording ban is a way of protecting the voices of minorities or otherwise marginalized communities who would be too afraid of speaking up does not ring completely true. If this is a serious concern, then ASG should work on making themselves more accessible to students who already balk at the idea of facing a panel of peers.
It’s understandable that some senators or speakers would be uncomfortable with having the meetings recorded. Equally understandable is wanting to know what the positions of ASG members are—that’s part of what being held accountable means and what calling yourself a representative entails.
By nature of the position, ASG members are making themselves public figures on this campus. Maybe senators did not previously sign up to be recorded once a week but they did sign up to have their governing opinion be a matter of public record.
Banning all recordings—which impedes the ability of this newspaper to accurately and fairly report ASG proceedings—is an overreaction. Compromises must be made in this matter. Introducing a bylaw ensuring senators know they have to consent to being recorded when they are sworn in is a step in the right direction.
Another is hiring the university’s Media Services to film Senate meetings, like they have in the past, and archive the footage in the library where it would only be available to those who can provide a Santa Clara I.D.
Since ASG has voted on not continuing discussion for the rest of the year, students will have to contend with recording ban. That means, as of now, ASG is not permitting any recordings. The proposed plan is to post signs outside the meeting room saying recordings are not permitted and also announce that at the beginning of the meetings.
So far, these two stipulations have not been observed during the week seven or eight meetings.
No recordings means it will be immensely difficult for ASG to accurately reflect what occurs in meetings that can run up to three hours long. No recordings also means “The Santa Clara” chooses to no longer recap the ASG Senate meetings.
Perla is a junior English and sociology major and also the Managing Editor for The Santa Clara. Erin Fox is a junior marketing major and the News Editor for The Santa Clara.