ASUC implements nonmandatory attendance at meetings in light of COVID-19 pandemic

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In light of the global coronavirus pandemic, the ASUC has moved all senate and committee meetings online, making attendance at the meetings nonmandatory.

According to ASUC Chief Legal Officer Jedidiah Tsang, “teleconferenced meetings cannot be considered regular meetings,” per ASUC bylaws, so attendance at teleconferenced meetings is not mandatory.

“All requirements for main motions such as finance allocations, bylaw amendments, and other resolutions are still being adhered to,” Tsang said in an email.

Attendance in senate meetings has been significantly lower in the current semester than it was during the fall semester. Senate meetings in fall 2019 had a total of 15 recorded absences over the course of 13 meetings. For the spring semester thus far, there have been 41 absences in the 11 weeks of meetings recorded, according to ASUC Senate meeting minutes. In fall 2019, seven out of the 13 meetings on record had no absences; in the current semester, no meetings have occurred without at least two absences, with six being the highest number of total absences for a single meeting.

Despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, ASUC Senator Media Sina said her “advocacy is as strong as ever” this semester.

“My first priorities are the wellbeing of students,” Sina said in the email. “I am working constantly to stay in conversations that the campus is taking around online instruction, and giving input regarding how finals will be administered.

Aside from its regular functions, the ASUC has also made efforts directed specifically at mitigating the impacts of the pandemic on students.

The ASUC COVID-19 Financial Relief Committee, of which Sina is a member, met for the first time Saturday to discuss relief efforts for communities especially impacted by the disease.

“It’s easy to look at officials and forget that they are human, but this situation affects them just as much as everyone else,” said ASUC chief communications officer Bryan Huang in an email. “While the best case scenario would be for everyone to come together in one meeting room like we usually do, these times require us all to be flexible. … In the end, everyone’s safety comes first, including officials.”

Contact Ben Klein at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @BenKlein_dc‏.