By LORIANNE UPDIKE
After hours of preparing resolutions for the 1999 Utah Legislative session, the six student resolutions from Utah’s Intercollegiate Assembly will probably never reach the House floor.
The student sponsors are concerned the resolution pre-approval process makes it too difficult for resolutions to reach the Utah Legislature.
A student bill first must pass both houses of Utah Intercollegiate Assembly, the state student mock legislature. Of the 31 bills proposed at UIA in 1998, 19 passed both houses.
Of the those 19 resolutions, six qualified to proceed to the Utah Legislature by majority vote of both houses.
However, before these bills reach their final destination at the state legislature, they must pass approval by the Utah Council of Student Body Presidents. The approved resolutions are then presented to either the state Board of Regents or the Utah Legislature.
John Hogelin, 25, a BYU senior majoring in political science, is sponsoring one of the six bills that made it past the UIA. Hogelin said this screening process is both counterproductive and adds more red tape. He maintains UCSP’s direction of UIA is unwanted and unnecessary.
While Hogelin agrees that UCSP screens the resolutions to maintain credibility, he maintains censorship of UIA resolutions filters out the voice of Utah’s student body.
“They are compromising the pure democratic voice of Utah students,” Hogelin said.
This process is unfortunate, Hogelin said, because students around the state who are involved in UIA are in it because they want to make a difference. Students at UIA addressed everything from date rape and campus diversity to recycling in their resolutions.
One of the six bills proposed by UIA was not approved by UCSP in recent months. The resolution would mandate profitable recycling at every school in the state.
According to Brian Bowers, who represents BYU in UCSP as BYUSA student body president, this requirement was simply not feasible for small schools such as the College of Eastern Utah and Dixie.
“It just doesn’t make sense for all schools in the state to be required to do this,” Bowers said. Bowers maintains that this resolution, which was clearly infeasible and unreasonable to present to the state legislature, should have been screened by the UIA governor before even making it to UCSP. These kind of problems, Bowers said, are the fault of both UIA and UCSP.
UCSP is preparing their own bills for the state legislature. Bills addressing student privacy and the misuse of Social Security numbers as student identification numbers, increasing state technology-based funding, improving UCOPE, a state financial aide package and improving the inter-library loan system, are all bills that UCSP is working on.
Bowers said with so many bills from both UCSP and UIA, it would be a joke for the Commissioner of Education if these bills were not presented in a unified fashion.
UIA Governor Eddy Bennett, 24, a senior at University of Utah, said most of the problem in the approval process comes from UCSP and UIA not working well together up to this point. He said UIA members have simply met for a few days, felt warm and fuzzy, and then gone home without making a lasting impact.
Bennett said that UIA and UCSP are constructing a new constitution to change the process. He said the new constitution would give both organizations an equal vote on what issues are presented to the legislature.
Trion Muller, 25, senior at Southern Utah University and chair of UCSP, said that the new constitution will no longer give UCSP ultimate power. The new constitution will improve communication and understanding, allowing both organizations to go to the Utah Legislature with one voice Muller said.
“It’s been ridiculous in the last 20 years. We’ve been like kids playing in a sandbox. Under the new constitution, we’ll definitely be much more credible,” Muller said.
Muller said he has high hopes for the new constitution. He accredits the changes to humble people who are willing to change an old system to leave it better than they found it.
“We are blessed with a group of humble individuals and leaders that are willing to make the changes to be successful. There is a lot of power in that,” he said.