The Temple Student Government Ethics Board will require Parliament to propose at least 15 new resolutions by Dec. 18, after not passing a single one so far this semester.
Members of Parliament and executive leadership complained to the Constitutionality Committee that the body was ineffective. Parliament members argue the requirement is unfair, because they had been spending most of their meetings trying to fill seats.
Maddy Okkerse, a freshman class representative, appealed and will be heard by the Ethics Board on Thursday.
Parliament members who do not help reach this goal set by the Ethics Board may face suspension, which can span anywhere between a few days to a few weeks.
Parliament is TSG’s representative branch. Its primary responsibility is to pass resolutions that address the needs of students. Since the start of the semester, the body has not voted on or proposed any resolutions.
Only three more meetings remain for members to meet the 15-proposal quota before their deadline. By November 2017, last year’s Parliament had proposed and passed two resolutions. Since its first meeting in January 2017, the body passed 15 resolutions in total.
Parliament has struggled to recruit students each semester it has existed. Of its 36 seats, only 16 were filled during the Spring 2018 elections. Four of the seats — two freshmen, Residence Hall Association and Greek life — must be selected during the fall semester.
Parliament members had spent the previous semester attempting to impeach one another, The Temple News reported in November 2017. The discord ended in planned conflict-resolution training.
The body gained 13 more representatives so far this semester, but seven seats remain vacant.
“I know firsthand that you guys have so much more ability to make really great change on this campus,” Ethics Board Judge Jordan Laslett told Parliament members on Nov. 5. “If you just took more of a leadership position on policy aspects, it is possible for you all to do so much more than what you’re doing.”
In the past, Parliament relied on executive branch-approved budgets to fund resolutions. IgniteTU, the winning campaign in Spring 2018, gave the branch shared funding with the Executive Branch as part of its platform. Parliament now receives an independent budget with an unidentified total to fund its resolutions.
TSG’s Treasurer Ryan Michener wrote in a statement that he does not think the memorandum will “at all impact” the budget for Parliament.
“We want to make sure Parliament feels effective and that they can be autonomous,” Vice President of External Affairs Cameron Kaczor told The Temple News in August.
Laslett said the Executive Branch might be open to helping new members of the body become acclimated to the environment, but in previous years, Parliament expressed the need for less executive oversight. Since the body struggling this year, the branch may have pulled back too much, he added.
“Maybe you’re not getting as much as you require as new members,” he said to the body. “If that’s something that needs addressing, we need veteran [Parliament members] to come back in the future to help better train and see that Parliament is being educated up.”
Phillip Smith, the director of Student Activities and the faculty adviser of TSG, met with Parliament members on Monday during their scheduled committee meeting to guide the body toward proposing thorough resolutions.
“A resolution needs to be thought out, researched,” he told the body. “You need to be able to come together, do research, vote on it and have it pushed forward. I don’t want a bunch of nonsense resolutions proposed just to have them proposed.”
In the past, resolutions have varied from hosting a phone bank to lobby for state funding, to supporting refugee students, to training students to use naloxone in the form of Narcan, a nasal spray that reverses the effects of opioid overdose.
Committee meetings usually give Parliament members time to plan and write resolutions. Because of Smith’s meeting, members were not given that time.
Boyer College of Music and Dance representative Judy Kang said the Ethics Board memorandum hinders the body’s ability to put out quality resolutions.
“We’re trying to come out with resolutions that are more meaningful resolutions. …They want a number of resolutions by a certain date rather than doing something that’s more meaningful or thought out,” Kang said.
To present a resolution, Parliament members must draft their ideas and submit it to the Speaker of Parliament at least six days before the body’s meeting.
Nancy Allen, the Parliament counselor on the Ethics Board, reminded members of the body of their right to appeal the memorandum when it was issued.
“If you don’t co-sponsor or write a resolution by the end of your term in Parliament, you can get suspended,” she said. “But if you think the memorandum is too much, you can appeal this. It’s not final.”
“It takes time to put policy together,” said Emanuel Wilkerson, an at-large representative. “It takes time for us to get acclimated into the Parliament. …We have to meet and do our due diligence before we can present any legislation.”
Razin Karu, the Parliament speaker and transfer student representative, said the body has been ineffective because it is focusing on filling seats.
“It shouldn’t be the responsibility of this body to spend two months of the fall semester filling up seats,” Karu said.
Salman Fayaz, one of the two freshman class representatives, said he doesn’t think the memorandum is a good use of the Ethics Board and Parliament’s time.
“I’d rather have a guide,” Fayaz said. “Parliament is so inefficient because no one knows what to do.”
Parliament members said two weeks ago they are working on some resolutions, like one to promote safety through Temple Police and another to make dining halls more sustainable.
Alex Rosenberg, a junior class representative, told the Ethics Board that he submitted a resolution to build an on-campus dog park weeks ago that wasn’t voted on at the Nov. 5 meeting.
Allen denied the motion to vote on his proposal because it wasn’t submitted properly.
Allen said the memorandum’s intent was not meant to be malicious.
“I didn’t want to have to sit and make this memorandum on top of my five classes, internship and three other things,” she said. “But I did it because I care about you guys and I understand why you think I was coming from a bad place but trust me, I wasn’t.”
“Whatever you want can be done, you just have to do it,” she added.