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Proposed Strategy for Senate Engagement on Key Issues

Proposed  process for the Senate to provide voted-upon feedback on issues that are brought to the main Senate meeting:

  1. When the UFC, DoF, and ADoF meet to set the Senate agenda, they will identify items that the Senate will officially weigh in on. I would anticipate we would want to weigh in on just about everything that was not simply informational in nature.
  2. During the discussion of those items at Senate meetings, we will take notes to try to capture some of the key ideas, concerns, areas of support, etc. that come up in Q&A.
  3. We will have ~2 weeks after the Senate meeting where Senators can continue to weigh in on the issue through a website.
  4. At the next UFC agenda setting meeting, we will distill the notes and comments into a series of statements that try to capture the “sense of the Senate” on the issue. Our goal would not be to censor ideas here, but rather to distill key themes that Senators could then evaluate and vote on. Some of these statements might be contradictory (if there were multiple views apparent among Senators) and some might not be broadly supported but still worth getting a vote on. These statements would be distributed along with the agenda for the next Senate meeting for Senators to review.
  5. At the following Senate meeting, these statements would be presented, with an opportunity for amendments to be offered, and voted on, one-by-one.
  6. The statements would then be communicated to the committee or individual who brought the issue to the Senate in the first place and would be part of the public record.

This would give a formal process, with one month turnaround, for the Senate to provide feedback. This same process could be used for a wide variety of different kinds of issues brought to the Senate.

This is not meant to replace committee work and reports, of course, but rather is intended to provide a way for voted-upon feedback to come from the discussions that occur at formal Senate meetings. This would also not be the totality of Senate feedback, as Senators could still propose resolutions, etc. that would be debated and voted on, as before. Committees could issue reports or bring issues up for discussion, as before.

The proposed process  would also provide a way for the Senate to give voted-upon feedback early in the decision making process (as long as the Senate is getting updates on important issues, which it would be the UFC’s responsibility to ensure), rather than us just weighing in when things were further along. Early feedback that carried the weight of a Senate vote could prove to be pretty influential. That, in turn, may encourage everyone (including Senators) to take the Senate more seriously and come to value such “sense of the Senate” feedback.

Doing all this would take quite a bit of time. We would take 50-100% more time per issue, now spread across at least two Senate meetings. We would be holding a bunch of votes, each with a potential for extended debate, at each Senate meeting. So, we would have to take on fewer topics at each meeting, but would then invest time in each one giving feedback.

Last Updated: April 8, 2018 at 11:03 am