MUSG prohibits use of secret ballots, reallocates funds

Marquette Student Government passed two pieces of legislation at its weekly senate meeting Thursday night. The first was Amendment 4, which prohibits the use of secret ballots on senate votes, unless constitutionally mandated. The second was a resolution to reallocate $1,739 from the MUSG reserve fund for the replacement of three office computers.

Amendment 4 was authored by Off-Campus Senator Mary McCarthy, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Schroeder Hall Senator Matthew Walker, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. Walker said the legislation is an effort to increase transparency and accountability in senate.

“We really wanted to remove closed ballot voting so that constituents know how senators vote on their behalf,” Walker said after the meeting. “It’s really about the constituents rather than the senators. It’s really important that we get this information out to senators so that they know what MUSG is doing.”

In researching the legislation, Walker and McCarthy looked at two other schools’ student government policies— University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and Georgetown University in Washngton, D.C. Both of those schools publish the voting records of their student association senators.

The amendment will not apply to senate votes that are constitutionally mandated to be secret ballot votes. Internal elections for student organization funding committee, budget committee, president pro tempore, legislative vice president and confirmation of appointments for communications vice president, financial vice president and programs vice president will not be affected.

The amendment passed 27-to-1 with one abstaining in a roll call vote.

The resolution will reallocate funds from the MUSG reserve fund for the replacement of computers in the MUSG office.

The MUSG reserve fund is made up of unspent funds as well as surplus earnings that were unanticipated by MUSG. The reserve fund currently has more than $250,000. The reserve fund can be accessed for capital goods and other office-related equipment for MUSG.

The university has an ongoing computer replacement program that covers most university departments. This year, six MUSG computers came up for replacement. However, three of the computers – two Macintosh desktops and a laptop – do not qualify under standard replacement.

“We could have gone with just the standard, but given the success we’ve had with the laptop for taking notes as well as the Macs in designing, we felt it was necessary to make a purchase,” Legislative Vice President Kyle Whelton said.

The replacement is partially subsidized by the program, but the majority of the costs have to be covered by MUSG. They will have to exhaust the remainder of the funds budgeted for technology this fiscal year and cover the rest through the reallocation of $1,739 from the reserve fund.

The resolution passed 28-to-0 with one abstaining.

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