By Natalie Crnosija
USG Senate’s approval of an act that created a staff for the Vice President of Student Life, Programming and Activities nearly fizzled into a filibuster twice during the November 5th USG Senate meeting. The Office of Student Life, Programming and Activities Act stipulates that the Vice President of Student Life, Programming and Activities can have an unspecified number of paid agents to act as his proxies during administrative meetings and manage paperwork for up to 20 hours per week. The act was approved by twelve votes, with two votes against the act and five abstentions.
Vice President Student Life, Programming and Activities Keith Tilley, a fifth year Political Science and Philosophy student, proposed the act and argued that the requirements of the office, as written in the constitution, were too demanding for any official to fulfill within any given week without the help of agents. Apart from the addition of assistants, Tilley proposed stricter financial oversight of the Roth Regatta and Brookfest, both of which are campus-wide student events funded by USG.
The proposed act was tacked immediately with an amendment and a side of senatorial dissent.
The amendment to the act, presented by Senator Daniel Graber, aimed to eliminate passages of the act that had been copied from the USG Constitution with regard to the scope of Vice Presidential responsibilities and agent employment. Tilley argued that because the passages of the Office of Student Life, Programming and Activities Act were nearly exact echoes of the USG Constitution they should remain intact. The Senate voted down the amendment by twelve votes, with six in favor and one abstention.
Apart from the attempted amendment, Senator Runyu Fan said Tilley’s proposal for a paid staff to help him manage the responsibilities was a way to for Tilley to shirk the responsibilities of his office.
“So [the responsibilities of the VP of Student Life, Programming and Activities] are too much to handle? There are too many agents, that means you are avoiding your job,” said Fan.
The vice president of Student Life, Programming and Activities oversees the Student Activities Board, sits on the University Senate Committee for Student Life, must have frequent meetings with Dean of Students Jerrold L. Stein and various administrators and manage ALERT, the program which provides low-price LIRR tickets to students. Tilley said he knew the terms of his office when he was elected, but the requirements were impossible to fulfill and would have to be changed.
“There are just so many hours in a week,” said Tilley. “[The Office of Student Life, Programming and Activities Act] is what I came up with.”
Vice President of Academic Affairs Shamell Forbes lent his support to the creation of Tilley’s office and staff. Other USG offices, like that of the Treasurer and the Vice Presidents of Academic Affairs and Communications and Public Relations have agents to help manage their officer’s workload.
“The office needs a staff,” said Forbes. “The act doesn’t reflect the person, it reflects the position.”
Previous Vice Presidents of Student Life, Programming and Activities have been impeached because of their inability to manage the manifold responsibilities of the office as stipulated in the USG Constitution.
Tilley assured that the Senate will have oversight power and control the number of agents that could be hired and paid. He also assured that agents would not be paid for more than 20 hours of work and that only four of these hours could be spent out of the office, attending relevant committee meetings.
Senator Aneta Bose found fault in Tilley’s need for paid assistants. Bose, a member of SAB, opposed Tilley’s proposed sending of paid agents to SAB meetings which are open to the student body.
“I don’t think you need to attend meetings,” said Bose. “I don’t think anyone should be paid for attending SAB meetings. Nobody gets paid for it.”
Tilley asserted that he, as vice president of his office, is required to attend SAB meetings and is paid for it as per the USG Constitution. Though the Senate ultimately ruled in favor of Tilley’s act, the floor was dominated by debate over the act and its amendment in excess of half an hour. Senator Syed Haq called the debate to question for both the amendment to the act and the act itself, which forced the end of debate and a vote.
Newly-elected Senator Deborah Machalow said Haq feared that the Senate would be mired in debate without a result, forcing discussion to continue late into the night. Machalow said she supported the Office of Student Life, Programming and Activities Act.
“If [Tilley’s] job is easier, then he will attend to student needs much easier,” said Machalow.