Posts Tagged ‘Cedar Crest’
Written by Bulletin Staff
Thursday, 05 April 2012 15:02
Thursday, 05 April 2012 15:02
Transparency laws like KOMA are in place for a reason. They are a cornerstone of open government, and without them we can’t really know what our government is doing or how our tuition and tax dollars are spent. The Bulletin asked President Ashley Vogts via email on Monday if ASG is subject to KOMA but did not receive a response by press time on Wednesday.
In 1977, a Kansas Attorney General opinion ruled that university student senates were not subject to Kansas law because they played an advisory role within the university and had no real power, according to Adam Goldstein, attorney advocate for the Student Press Law Center.
But Goldstein said that since student senates now have the power to distribute public funds, they should be subject to state law, which means that ASG, a public body with the power to allocate student fees as they see fit, should be subject to transparency laws, including KOMA and the Open Records Act.
But ASG may have committed an illegal act by violating KOMA.
It all stemmed from unclear voting procedure on a bill for a line item increase for The Bulletin. A vote for those in favor and one for those opposed was taken, but there was no vote for abstentions, and the bill was declared failed. Several moments later, it was found that the vote had not been finished, so a revote was taken.
But once the meeting had officially ended and the room had cleared, Hobson called for an executive session with the members of ASG. Vogts told a Bulletin reporter that this was “procedure,” and when asked to cite which exemption under KOMA would allow for the secret meeting, Hobson said it was “consultation with the adviser.”
This, however, is not a legitimate exemption under KOMA, and ASG’s failure to cite a proper exemption is seemingly illegal.
In addition to citing an exemption, ASG also had to state the subjects to be discussed during the closed meeting and designate the time and place at which the open meeting would resume. ASG did none of these.
Such ignorance to the proper procedure is understandable to a certain extent, especially given the current state of politics and how even the entire Republican side of the state legislature is being investigated for a KOMA violation at Cedar Crest, but ignorance is no excuse. As an administrator, Hobson should have known better than to give such poor advice to ASG.
To make matters worse, at one point Hobson stood up and congratulated ASG for doing such a wonderful job in debating the allocation of student fees. She said how proud she was because “this is what it’s all about.” If throwing state law out of the window is “what it’s all about,” then what kind of institution are we?
Regardless of the bad procedure and advice they got, as representatives of the student body with the power to disburse public funds, in this case student fees, ASG must be held accountable for their actions. If we can’t expect our student reps to uphold the law, what can we expect from them?