both sides of
The Santa Clara
November 16, 2017
“I don’t think it’s an issue of right or left. It’s an issue of right or wrong,” sophomore Senator Rory Pannkuk said.
At the week six ASG meeting, a unanimous vote was held to wrap up discussion on whether or not to allow recordings in any capacity of ASG Senate meetings.
This vote had to be unanimous in order to align with the California State law, Penal Code Item 632, as well as to protect those who would be in the voting minority.
Some senators voted “no” on recordings in general, so discussion of recordings for the current academic year will cease to continue.
“We are a community and should act accordingly,” said junior Senator Rahaima Choudhry.
Senators like Choudhry and sophomore Senator Helen Kassa expressed concerns for members of ASG and even audience members potentially being uncomfortable while being recorded.
“Minorities and others who are marginalized would be put at risk or feel as if they could not speak their mind freely,” Choudhry said.
Kassa said that although she does not mind recordings, she spoke with her constituents who expressed concerns of comfortability.
In deciding how to vote, she weighed what decision would do more harm.
“It doesn’t hurt me not being recorded. It does hurt people who don’t want to be recorded, if they are recorded,” Kassa said.
First-year Senator Kyle Andrews fears the words of senators could get manipulated if any third party was permitted to record.
Senators who voted against recordings recognized that ASG’s transparency is reinforced by the minutes logged every meeting by ProTempore Sam McNeal.
The minutes are summarized notes from meetings that are supposedly published on the ASG website the Wednesday following each Thursday night meeting. Senators are consistently provided the prior minutes on this day.
Minutes are linked in a weekly, campus-wide email from ASG, but this link only leads to outdated meeting information from weeks two and three.
Pannkuk pointed out that these minutes could potentially be altered, just as video or audio content could be altered.
ASG meetings are open to the public and are often advertised, a point many senators who voted against recordings touched on.
“If a student really cares about the issues Senate is addressing, they will end up coming to the meeting itself,” first-year Senator Ciara Moezidis said.
Others believe this is not enough.
“It should be open and fair and free. Anyone who wants should be able to record us. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a senator, a student, a faculty member or a member of the janitorial staff,” said sophomore Senator Bjorn Thyrring.
Sophomore Senator Erik Echeona stressed the importance of maintaining as much transparency as possible, which he believes includes permitting recordings.
It was the Executive Council, consisting of President Jack Herstam, Vice President Samantha Pérez, Senate Chair Aly Motzel, Chief Justice Brooke Herzog, Community Development VP Elena Radding, Finance VP Ben Rhoades and Public Relations VP Maggie Hurlbut, who decided it was time to vote.
According to Herstam, if protocol is followed correctly, there will be postings outside of the room ASG Senate meetings are held in stating that recordings are not allowed.
If someone is noticed to be recording, they will be asked to stop and most likely will be dismissed from the meeting.
Herstam emphasized the importance of following the rule and claimed that the decision was obvious for him. To Herstam, “the law is very clear.”
There is a bylaw change being written by Thyrring and Echeona that would take effect in the upcoming academic year. This bylaw change proposal currently states that when getting sworn in, senators would consent to being recorded, by nature of the position, at Senate meetings. This bylaw change would add specific language pertaining to recordings to the bylaws.
There is currently no outline for how senators interact with recordings and this has led to some of the controversy surrounding this topic.
Senators have claimed they did not previously sign on to getting recorded once a week.
Thyrring and Echeona are considering an addition to the bylaw change proposal that would simply allow those who request permission to record, as a compromise between the two sides of the debate.
Aside from recordings not being allowed for the remainder of the 2017-18 academic year, nothing else has been set in stone.
Contact Meghan McLaughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.