ISS taking closed Facebook group seriously, says vice president emeritus

By Megan Jones

The Illinois Student Senate submitted a resolution to delete the current closed Facebook group, which holds a majority of the senate’s quorum, violating their constitution as this breaches provisions of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

“Members are already dropping out of the Facebook group, which makes perfect sense, but we have to have action to show the student body that we are taking the matter seriously,” said Carey Ash, vice president emeritus.  

The resolution was sent to the Committee on Internal Affairs, which will hold a public hearing at their 7 p.m. meeting on Monday, Nov. 11. It proposes to give senators a 24-hour grace period from the moment the resolution passed to disband from the group. 

Calvin Lear, senator and graduate student, questioned why the group will not be made public before deletion; however, Ash said the student senate already has a Facebook page and they do not want two conflicting groups. He also said internal affairs will discuss the possibility of making the group public for a certain number of days before deletion.

Lear added that the Urbana-Champaign Senate has similar conversations because “nobody understands how OMA (Open Meetings Act) works in the electronic age, not even the lawyers or the senate.” 

Senators Nathan Hesch, junior in engineering, and Matthew Coppola, senior in LAS, submitted a proposal to remove from the senate all senators who participated in the Facebook group, citing their oath to “adhere to the high standards of ethics and leadership which the student body expects.” 

“Many of our constituents are concerned about this,” Hesch said. 

Many senators objected to this, including Rachel Heller, junior in psychology.

“I just don’t think this is necessary to discuss,” she said.

The resolution failed with 19 in opposition and 7 in support. As of Tuesday, Nov. 5, there were 39 members in the closed Facebook group.

On Tuesday, State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-103, left her son’s bedside while he was in hospice to go to Springfield to vote for the Illinois same-sex marriage bill, SB10. Jakobsson’s son passed away later that day.

Chris Lowery, senator and senior in LAS, spoke of his close relationship with Jakobsson and urged ISS to show support for her. Damani Bolden, student body president, passed two cards around for senators to sign.

“Please keep Naomi Jakobsson and her family in your thoughts,” Bolden said. “She has been an advocate of the student senate for a very long time, and we are truly honored to advocate with her.”

ISS is currently hosting ongoing nominations for a new vice president-external. Hesch, Ash and Shao Guo, senator and senior in ACES, were nominated. 

Senator Justin Ostrowski, senior in LAS, submitted a resolution to show support for “Trans* Inclusive Illinois,” citing that the University is “lagging behind many Big Ten and dashboard universities in its progress on trans inclusion.” 

He said, for example, the University of Michigan’s inclusion in terms of restrooms, housing, name changes and health care. The resolution was moved to the Committee on Campus Affairs to be discussed further.

Megan can be reached at [email protected]