Attendance issues stall MUSG end-of-the-year senate election

In a three-hour Senate session Thursday, Marquette Student Government senators were hindered by several members' absences when voting for committee seats, raising the issue of proper attendance.

Four elections were scheduled to take place at the meeting: an academic senator to the budget committee, two academic senators to the student organization allocation committee and a president pro-tempore.

No majority was reached in the first two races because only about 25 senators were present out of a total of 29 seated senators. A majority of the total seated senators, required in Thursday's elections, constitutes at least 15 votes.

Several senators suggested adjourning Thursday's session early and holding a special meeting Sunday, but at least eight present senators indicated they would not be able to attend that special session.

Other senators proposed removing from office those members who are continuously skipping meetings but were not supported by a majority.

According to MUSG regulations, each senator is allowed to miss two meetings if they are legitimately excused. The legislative vice president should issue a warning to any senator missing with three unexcused absences, according to the MUSG constitution.

Declan Glynn, the legislative vice president and a College of Arts & Sciences junior, plans to enforce the regulations in order to increase attendance in Senate, he said.

Sometimes sessions run long and senators should be prepared for that, said John Connors, a College of Business Administration freshman and residential senator from South Hall.

"It's tough," he said. "It's really demanding on time. Sometimes you think, 'Maybe I should bring a sleeping bag.'"

The absences create a big problem in the senatorial process, said Pat Landry, a College of Arts & Sciences freshman and one of the O'Donnell Hall residential representatives.

"It seems some people miss more than others," he said. "This makes legislation difficult to pass."

Thursday's delays were not the first setbacks to voting procedures.

Two weeks before, the senators failed to elect a new legislative vice president and delayed the vote until April 14.

At that point in time, Glynn vacated his post as senator, lowering the number of seated senators from 30 to 29. This move also lowered the number of votes required for a majority from 16 to 15.

The new numbers could affect hotly contested races and may make it harder to reach a majority quickly

The elections of the one academic senator to the budget committee and two academic senators to the student organization allocation committee began April 14 and have not been decided yet. They were tabled until Thursday.

Some senators say this is an example of absences hampering efficient elections.

Jon Dooley, assistant dean of student development, said he has not seen a situation where absences have created a gridlock in legislation. But he added that legislation is just one part of senate.

"This is just one set of stuff," he said. "Other business is still happening."

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on April 26 2005.