Thursday, March 26, 2015

Close Vote, No Coverage

If a close vote happens and no journalists are there to report it, does it make any difference?

Background first. UGA's University Council has little real power. The exceptions? It sets the academic calendar (when's fall break?), and it has power over curriculum. Pretty much everything else the administration can choose to ignore, if it so chooses. And sometimes it does.

The Council itself is made up of faculty, administrators, staff and students. I've even blogged about the makeup before. In other words, it's not a legislative body. It's no senate. Only in academe could the executive branch also get to be part of the legislative branch. It's called the Plantation Model of university governance.

Okay, history lesson over. Why am I prattling on? The Council met Wednesday afternoon (full disclosure, I'm an unfortunate member) to approve everything on the agenda. That includes dramatic changes to my own college. Not that you'd want to cover that, other than with a crappy man-on-the-street thing. 

But something did happen that I didn't expect -- a close vote.

There was a proposal by the grad student organization to increase the number of grad students unlucky enough to serve on the council. The speaker said the proposal had the support of undergraduates, via the Student Government Association, but no one from that organization was either at the meeting or decided to speak. You can read the details yourself at the link above, but what's interesting is the vote.

62 For
55 Against

It's damned unusual to see something so close. The argument against this is the proportion of grad students to undergrads is such that having nearly equal representation on the Council doesn't make much sense. I wish we could use the same argument and purge the Council of administrators who vote as ex-officios, but that's another matter for another day.

I voted for it. I figure if I have to suffer through Council meetings, so should as many other people as possible. Hey, I've decided things for worse reasons than that.

This has to come up again, because changes in the bylaws require two successive votes. Be interesting to see how the above vote changes, if at all, by then.

And finally ... so far I've seen no stories by the local student media. Hell, did you even attend the Council meeting? And if you didn't, why the hell did I have to go?

Oh, right. I represent Grady. Sigh.

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