July 19, 2019 | 87° F

RUSA establishes new subcommittees, standing rules after intense debate

Photo by Declan Intindola |

Parliamentarian Nick Tharney introduced new standing rules for the Assembly. He rejected questions of a conflict of interest as he was both the lead author and head of revisions for the bill. 

Multiple new subcommittees and representatives were added along with the revisions to standing rules that were introduced at the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) meeting on Thursday. After the Assembly’s debate, students spoke on the state of infrastructure at the University. 

Standing rules are a set of rules that govern how the Assembly is run, said Parliamentarian Nicholas Tharney, a Rutgers Business School junior. The only document with higher governing power is the group’s constitution.

Non-clerical changes included the introduction of multiple new subcommittees, as well as the inclusion of a new international student representative, said the chair of RUSA's Internal Affairs Committee (IA) Alex Anderson.

“A legitimate change would be an international student representative. We had it brought up to us about how there needs to be better representation in RUSA, by what undergraduates are. We’ll have a new voting member of RUSA with this new change to the standing rules, so hopefully it’ll be more representative of the undergraduates,” Anderson said.

The new subcommittees added included a physical health subcommittee and an alcohol and drugs subcommittee, she said.

After discussion on the standing rules concluded, the platform was opened to the public. Neeharika Thuravil, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, spoke about the deterioration of equipment and infrastructure on campus, specifically on Busch campus, and what she said was the University's lack of response time.

“I went around to all the buildings on Busch in the last week, and out of most of the major classroom buildings, they’re all dilapidated. Carpets are stained, some of the walls are leaking, the buildings showed a lot of signs of age,” Thuravil said.

The University received $4.3 billion in revenue for fiscal year 2018, according to Rutgers' website. The University spends 4 percent of its budget on utilities, repair and maintenance, compared to 7 percent for fellow Big Ten member University of Maryland and more than 32 percent for another Big Ten member Michigan State University, according to both universities' budgets.

Thuravil said she is upset with the way the University is allocating its funds.

“It really came back to my attention today, how much trouble the University is going through, in terms of prioritizing where they put their money,” Thuravil said.

Another revision to the standing rules added during the internal debate limits the power of RUSA's executive board, Tharney said.

“Because we are an assembly that functions through committee structure, the idea is that most legislation should come out of committees … In the event that there is a discrepancy between what the committee wants and what the executive board wants, the Assembly would be the ultimate arbiter,” Tharney said.

The new standing rules require a vote from two-thirds majority of the Assembly to pass. The standing rules are to be voted on at the next RUSA meeting, which takes place on Thursday, said Andrew Petryna, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore and member of RUSA's Public Relations Committee.

Jeff Zhang, an external representative for RUSA, raised a question about potential conflict of interest over the standing rules.

“Do you feel like you have a conflict of interest in both being the primary author of this bill, and the one deciding what’s to remain in this bill or not?” Zhang said.

Tharney responded by saying conflicts of interest were not an issue.

“Absolutely not. For those of you who were paying attention during my executive board updates, you’d know that the parliamentarian advises the chair, and the chair is the one who makes the ultimate decision,” Tharney said.

Despite questions of a conflict of interest, other members of RUSA voiced support for the revisions, specifically the inclusion of an international student representative. Jason Yu, an external representative for RUSA, voiced his concerns about the lack of international representation and how the revisions would help fix that.

“I’m just speaking to one part of the legislation, which is the international student representative. I definitely feel like that’s one part of our student assembly that’s lacking representation. Statistically speaking, international students are at least 5 to 7 percent of the undergraduate population. I think you should support your legislation,” Yu said.

Jake McGowan

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