Hopefully by now, everyone who is interested in student government is aware that every Thursday at 11:00 a.m. the Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA) meets in the Alumni Lounge. The crowd ranges from the House, composed of representatives for the top twenty clubs and organizations, the Senate, students elected by USGA or the entire undergraduate student body, other gold and blue club representatives, and general members of the student body. With such varied groups in one room there must be a set of rules to keep everyone orderly, and for USGA, Robert’s Rules of Order are used. (For more information on Robert’s Rules, go to http://www.robertsrules.com.) Despite the organization that Robert’s Rules provide, there are still plenty of issues that can come up during meetings, and fortunately, that is where the USGA Executive Board comes into play. While the president, vice president, sergeant at arms, treasurer, and executive assistant do a great job of controlling meetings, I figured I’d do them all a favor and point out a few meeting no no’s!
Cut the chit chat! I think that the biggest issue at USGA meetings is the number of side conversations that happen throughout the meeting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you need to sit perfectly still and not make a sound, but there is a line that needs to be respected. Need to get someone’s attention to hand them something? Go ahead and do so quietly and then refocus on the meeting. Even if you have a quick question for someone sitting next to you, that’s not so bad; it’s when lengthy noisy conversations are going on all around the room. That when it’s a problem! I know that sometimes meetings run a little long and people start to get antsy, but talking isn’t the solution, and neither is playing with your phone!
Check your bias at the door! I know it can be hard to be unbiased especially when someone is passionate about the issue at hand, but it isn’t fair to speak or vote based on personal interests or feelings. Discussion and voting at USGA should be based on facts presented on the issue and directly related information. USGA is designed to make decisions that will benefit the undergraduate student body overall, not just a specific club/organization or person. When bias is a factor, it can hinder the effectiveness of decision making at USGA. A slight off shoot of remaining unbiased is remaining civil. There is no reason for discussion to get out of hand and let emotions gain the upper hand. Anyone can have their turn to speak, so don’t abuse that power and freedom by not thinking and recklessly speaking.
Pay attention! Nearly every time there is discussion at USGA, it starts off great, but then people begin to repeat each other. An occasional repeat to show support is one thing, but it is frustrating to a lot of the meeting attendees particularly when the meeting is lengthier than usual. Everyone is entitled to speak, that is one of the best parts of USGA; but there is no reason to say the same thing ten times!