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ASUA senators face inconsistency in recording office hours

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Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat

ASUA Senators and other affiliates gather together for a Senate meeting on Sept. 14, 2016. Senators are required to spend seven hours a week in office and five hours a week conducting office hours outside of the office.

The Associated Students of the University of Arizona senators are required to complete a certain amount of office hours, but in a document received by the Daily Wildcat, no senator has successfully tracked and completed their hours.

In the public Google doc sent to the Daily Wildcat that spanned the time between Nov. 7, 2016 and Jan. 13, total hours logged by senators ranged from just two to 27 hours.  

Senators are responsible for completing seven hours in office and five hours outside of the office for a total of 12 hours a week—no senator on the document had reached that 12 hours a week mark. Applicable hours include the weekly senate meetings or board and committee meetings. Since these meetings are held weekly and the office hours document has senators logged for fewer hours than those meetings require, it appears that not all senators filled out their log accurately.

Although senators may forget to sign in, Trey Cox, ASUA executive vice president, admitted some senators have not been attending office hours. He said senators should be held accountable for it.

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“Some of the senators do a really good job when they go to their office hours every week without fail,” Cox said. “This issue only applies to a certain amount of senators.”

Office hours give time for senators to work toward their platforms or accomplish goals. Some senators meet with administrators or different ASUA organizations and programs. In that case, the office hours may not be tracked or senators forget to sign in.

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The process of tracking the senate office hours happens through a sign-in sheet in the ASUA office.

“It is a super easy set up,” said Senator Enrico Trevisani. “There is a piece of paper in the office. When you come in the office to do senate work, you sign in and when you’re leaving and you know you’re not coming back, you sign out.”

Senator Matthew Lubisich said the sign-in system is a poor way of enforcing the office hours. The senators are looking into a CatCard swipe system for senators to check in.

“I think without a doubt we need to have a swipe in, and honestly, office hours in my opinion are not a good measurement of how much a senator does,” Lubisich said.

Although Lubisich said he sometimes does not track his hours, though he is still in the office or in meetings. He does not believe the office hours are a correlation to how much a senator does but instead the work itself will show their accomplishments.

“I think reform is necessary,” Lubisich said. “I think office hours are necessary, but we should go about it in a different way.”

On the other hand, Trevisani does think the hours are a good representation of how seriously someone takes the job.

“I think if students want an indication of how we’re going to do the job we are going for, that actually requires way more responsibility as a full time job, it is some indication of our dedication to ASUA and our dedication to student government,” Trevisani said.

Lubisich and Trevisani are both running for ASUA president. The primary elections start Feb. 13 and run to Feb. 15.

Cox said the senators do not have a boss or advisor to be their driving force to attend office hours. As elected positions, it is a responsibility the senators have to take care of on their own. Instead of relying on a boss to reprimand them, the senate president and the whip are responsible for the senators.

Lubisich and Trevisani are the senate president and whip.

But, this is not the first year senators have not been fulfilling office hours. Before Cox was executive vice president, he was a senator for two years. During his time as senator, the office hours were also a problem. He thinks the easiest way to hold the senators accountable is to publish the hours and make it transparent for all students.

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Lubisich mentioned how it is hard for some senators to complete their office hours. He gave the example of the College of Education Senator, Anna Reimers. He said Reimers student teaches from 8-5 p.m. every day. He said she has done great job already, but he questioned how she is supposed to complete her office hours in a timely manner.

Trevisani said there is a clear indication of which senators are fulfilling their duties because their presence is seen in the ASUA office.

“You could ask anyone from policy or academic affairs, and they know the senators that are usually in office,” Trevisani said. “They recognize us, we have conversations and a lot of senators they hardly see, if at all.”

Cox, Lubisich and Trevisani all said the senators need to be held accountable for completing their office hours. The easiest way to do this is through transparency, according to Cox.

The senate progress reports published in the Daily Wildcat have been one way senators are becoming more transparent. The student body can hold the senators accountable for the senators’ agendas.


Follow Elizabeth O'Connell on Twitter.



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