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Student Senate Debates Rules, not Policy on Anti-War Resolution
by Quinten Friday, Feb. 21, 2003 at 11:33 AM
quinten@indypgh.org (email address validated)

A 2 1/2 hour long meeting left Senators frustrated -- with a 1/2 hour long rancorous debate centering on how a motion could be introduced -- when an anti-war resolution was introduced on the floor of the Student Senate yesterday night. In a bizarre twist, no vote was held due to a loss of quorom at the end of the meeting.

Student Senate Debat...
papasian.jpg, image/jpeg, 300x254

"The meeting was semi farcical from the beginning," said Freshman Senator Randy Sinnot. "Debating the nuances of Robert's Rules of Order made it inane. Sinnot said that he supported the anti-war resolution, but was disgusted that so much havoc had been wreaked by it.

He added that he was not sure who was responsible for the mess, but that it was a "compendium of factors."

At 7:30 p.m., after an already long meeting that saw several motions and 10 vacant seats in the Senate filled, Senator Daniel Papasian (CIT) introduced his anti-war resolution on the floor of the Senate. Previous discussion in Excomm made it clear that the motion would not be put on the agenda.

He got as far as describing it as "A motion to oppose the war on Iraq" when Freshman Senator Stephanie Hepner (HSS) moved to not consider the motion. Allegedly, this was at the urging of Student Body President Brian Namey, who previously made his strong opposition to the motion even being discussed known. Stephanie had with her a photocopy from Robert's Rules.

However, it would have done both Hepner and Namey well to have read the rules more carefully, as two-term Senator Erik Michaels-Ober pointed out on the floor. In a nuance of Robert's Rules that left most Senators scratching their heads, Papasian's motion was to have the resolution he had not yet read considered. Such a motion requires a two-thirds vote, as did Hepner's motion. Instead of making a motion to silence the debate, as Hepner did, she could have simply asked for 1/3rd of the Senate to vote in opposition to considering the motion.

The debate over this point went on for almost 10 minutes. At the request of this reporter, the chair finally allowed Senator Papasian to read the motion to the floor. Then the debate over Robert's Rules continued. A brief recess was called.

At this point, Papasian's motion remained on the floor. A quorom call was made, as the attendance at the meeting had been steadily dropping. Quorom was present by a margin of 2 Senators in attendance. Then, a knock came at the door.

The Senate's time in the room had expired. The meeting moved in to the hall. But some Senators left at this point, including Hepner. Quorom was lost.

As it stands, the motion to consider Senator Papasian's resolution remains on the floor, and will be picked up at next week's meeting (as was the original intent -- to have a motion that all Senators could think about, according to Moiseyev and other involved in the construction of the resolution).

Leaving us wondering -- what was the point of attempting to cut off the discussion? Why did 1/2 hour of debate occur before the motion was even discussed by the Senators present, when a similar resolution by the nearby Wilkinsburg Borough Council was passed the day before in less time?

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The text of the resolution Daniel Papasian Friday, Feb. 21, 2003 at 1:48 PM
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