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Senate to use iClickers for more transparency

The Student Government Senate has started to use iClickers during meetings to keep a record of individual senators’ votes. SG hopes to improve communication with its constituents. Monica Herndon // The Miami Hurricane

In an effort to promote transparency, accountability and communication, the legislative branch of Student Government has started using iClickers during meetings to record senators’ votes on legislation.

iClickers are commonly used in UM classrooms so professors can keep track of student responses to questions asked in class. Now, the devices will be used to generate a report that keeps a record of each senator’s individual votes.

This method is replacing the former hand-raise voting style. In the past, only the totals – yes, no or abstain – were recorded.

“The idea was that if you were curious about what your senator was voting on and whether you felt it was necessary to make a change in the upcoming election, then you could have access to that information,” Speaker of the Senate Michael Kaplan said.

Senate voting records will be updated every two weeks and kept in the SG office (UC 214). Bills and their iClicker results will be available to any student with a valid Cane Card upon request. They will also soon be made available online, according to SG Press Secretary Mike Piacentino.

Sophomore Adriana Morell-Pacheco said she does not know about what her senator for the College of Arts and Sciences is doing.

“Students should be more informed about what their senators are doing for their school in particular as well as the university in general,” she said.

But junior Melanie Kleiner believes that students are unaware of Senate initiatives and would probably not check out the voting records.

“I probably wouldn’t look at the results, to be honest,” she said. “Unless it was something really, really significant that I felt needed to be changed, then I would.”

Senators are elected to represent their class, residential area, organization and school or college. In a given week, they vote on a range of issues, including granting funds for events hosted by student organizations and approving projects like adding a GPA calculator on myUM.

The decision to use iClickers came after an internal survey of SG members identified the organization’s strengths and weaknesses.

The anonymous survey was conducted at the end of the fall semester and reviewed during winter break. It measured responses of 82 members across all five branches of SG, as well as Cabinet and advisory boards.

The survey looked at members’ reasons for joining SG, meeting preparedness, interaction with constituency, and leadership and meeting efficiency, according to a fact sheet released by Piacentino.

The data showed that senators felt that they have not been reaching out to their constituents as often as they should be, according to Piacentino, who analyzed the results.

SG President Brandon Mitchell and the executive branch suggested the use of iClickers to rectify this communication issue. With the change, students can access senators’ votes, learn about Senate projects and hold their representatives accountable.

“Already, senators have started going out to their constituencies and talking and getting ideas,” Mitchell said.

Kaplan said that the senators want to reach out to the students as much as possible, but they cannot always get through to everybody.

“For the ones that we can’t always reach, there are plenty of ways to get involved,” he said.

The SG website features a “Find Your Senator” tool, and students can attend weekly Senate meetings on Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. in the UC Ballrooms.

March 4, 2012

Reporters

Lyssa Goldberg

Lyssa Goldberg is online editor of The Miami Hurricane. She is a senior majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in math. She has interned at Mashable and the Miami New Times, and her work has also been featured in The Huffington Post.


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