By The Editorial Board
Within the past two weeks, ASUCD Senate has held two closed sessions that were not open to the public to discuss various issues on the UC Davis campus. As senate has previously only held less than five closed sessions since the start of Fall Quarter 2013, it is a surprise and concern that two have been held in the last two weeks.
The first closed session of this academic year was held Oct. 16 to allow senate time to discuss information regarding Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA). It was called in the middle of the senate meeting, which is regularly held on Thursday nights. The second closed session was the week after, on Oct. 23, to discuss the Whole Earth Festival (WEF). However, the details of the meeting are not clear to the public. Last year, about $20,000 was lost in the Whole Earth Festival budget.
While we understand that holding these sessions to discuss matters without interruptions could be more efficient and sometimes necessary in weighing personnel issues, the sudden spike in the frequency of these sessions speaks to the Association’s long way to go in improving transparency.
ASUCD Bylaws mandate that a notice of the closed session be issued which should include the specific type of matter that will be discussed, in addition to the title of any person involved in the session. Furthermore, all actionable votes and major decisions should be made public knowledge and must be reported in a way similar to that of routine meeting minutes (BL 2004). A mere one-word mention on a senate agenda is not sufficient and by no means can it be considered “specific”. Additionally, the major outcomes of these sessions are not reported online as regular meeting minutes occasionally are.
Thursday night meetings are the only times that ASUCD has open sessions with the public, which is why this time should not be used to hold closed sessions. It is imperative that students know what is happening on campus and within the student government, and holding closed meetings poses a threat to the transparency that ASUCD needs to maintain with the rest of the UC Davis community.
NOTE: This article was edited for accuracy on Oct. 31, 2014. The original editorial reported that $20,000 was taken out of the Whole Earth Festival budget. These funds were spent by the unit. It was also incorrectly reported that a closed session would be held Oct. 30. The Editorial Board expanded information on ASUCD Bylaws. The Aggie regrets these errors.