ISS delinquencies given to members who miss meetings

Jessica Remke, student senator and senior in LAS, works in the student senate office at the Union on Monday. Erica Magda

Jessica Remke, student senator and senior in LAS, works in the student senate office at the Union on Monday. Erica Magda

By Andrew Maloney

Jessica Remke admits that missing an Illinois Student Senate meeting weighs heavily on her conscious.

“When you can’t attend, you always feel pretty badly,” said Remke, a student senator since April and senior in LAS. “It’s my responsibility to go to the meetings, but sometimes there are other things you have to do too.”

Of course, such commitments often include school work and participation in other Registered Student Organizations.

But in the Illinois Student Senate, missing one meeting can lead to a restriction on a member’s voting privileges during another. This penalty is called a delinquency, and it results after being absent from student senate functions twice in a two-week span. The weekly assembly of the student senate, Urbana-Champaign Senate and the two office hours per week designated to each student senator all qualify as ISS functions.

An automated computer system records when a member checks in and out of the office, which is located in the Illini Union. Each student senator can pick the specific time of day he or she wants to utilize office hours each week. The time that members spend in the office serves both as an opportunity for student senators to meet with each other and with constituents who want to voice concerns.

“It’s convenient,” Remke said of the system during her office hours Monday afternoon. “A lot of resolutions are written here, and the Executive Board members are here to help too.”

Remke said not having a fixed schedule was also beneficial, especially because she has office hours in conjunction with Volunteer Illini Projects as well. But without set times for student senators to be available, constituents may have difficulties knowing when they can meet with ISS members face-to-face.

“The system is great because we can choose times that work well for us,” said Michelle Dekeyrel, a student senator and senior in Business. “But at the same time, it’s problematic for students if they don’t know when our hours are.”

Dekeyrel said that since her election in April, she has not had any constituents contact her about issues they might be facing. Remke added that in her time as a student senator, only one student had come to her to discuss matters during office hours.

Jaclyn O’Day, student senate president and senior in LAS, said the majority of students might not know about office hours.

“Of course it’s a concern,” O’Day said. “But I think with technology the way it is, students can send an e-mail if they want to meet with us, or student senators can post their hours on the ISS Web site.”

O’Day said she sets five hours each week in her office, which allows her to visit with more students during a given week. The Outreach Committee, a group of student senators, is aimed to inform students about ISS functions and to help bridge gaps between student senators and their constituents.

However, O’Day said missing meetings or office hours doesn’t necessarily mean that student senators are foregoing their responsibilities.

“When someone is falling behind, we always address it,” O’Day said. “But with all the different committees they work on, there are multiple ways that senators provide their voices. Delinquency is not the biggest problem.”