U-Council Chair Elan Kugelmass ’14 proposed creating a three-member “USG Transparency Committee” at the weekly USG meeting on Sunday evening.
Responding to criticisms he said he’d received from students about how many of the USG’s projects take place outside of the Senate meetings, he said the proposed three-member committee would be an “experiment” with the role of distributing USG information to students who request it.
The role of the committee would not overlap with that of Richard Lu ’16, who currently serves as the USG communications director, Kugelmass said. The role of the communications director is to present high-level pitches in a “favorable light,” Kugelmass wrote in his proposal, while the Transparency Committee would provide minimally-filtered information, including minutes, conversations or other documents.
Lu, however, said he didn’t think there was any aspect of the Transparency Committee’s proposed role that the communications director couldn’t fulfill as well.
“I don’t think that everything I say about the USG has to have some kind of twisted, ulterior motive to it just because of my role as communications director,” Lu said.
Though a few members of the Senate said this committee would address a problem that does not exist, Kugelmass said the committee would also have a say in establishing the criteria for Executive Session, the portion of the weekly meeting that is not open to the public.
“I think it’s a horrendously overused tool in the USG,” Kugelmass said. “It’s a great opinion that we hide a lot of stuff behind closed doors that really doesn’t need to be there. I hope that if the Transparency Committee is established, it will take an active role in helping us figure out what ought to be behind closed doors and what ought not be there.”
The Senate will vote at its meeting next week on whether or not to create this committee.
The USG also discussed the progress of the COMBO IV survey results.
“This year we’re hoping to not only identify trends in the student body but also make policy recommendations,” Class of 2015 senator Zach Ogle said.
According to Ogle, the results are currently being analyzed by Data and Statistical Services, a branch of the Social Science Reference Center in Firestone Library. Ogle said the COMBO Committee hopes to complete the analysis before fall break, speak with relevant University offices to develop policy recommendations between fall break and Thanksgiving break and then release the data by winter break.
In order to come up with the policy recommendations, Ogle also said he intended to get feedback from students in focus groups. In these groups, students would get a sneak peek at the data and help develop policy recommendations.
“It seems to me that this is our job,” Academics Committee chair Dillon Sharp ’14 said. “We do the survey, we get the results and then we bring it to the Senate, and the people who actually know how to do policy work sit here and come up with the policy recommendations.”
Ogle explained that, by including students in the process, the USG could become more accessible and approachable to the student body.
Benedict Wagstaff ’14, chair of the Student Groups Recognition Committee, introduced the newest student group, Princeton Film Productions. The organization is the University’s first student-run film studio.
The USG also voted to approve a new Ad Hoc Treasury Committee, which USG treasurer Christina Yu ’14 said would increase the accountability and efficacy of spending by reviewing budgets, communicating with the Projects Board and researching student government spending at other universities.
Clarification: This article has been updated to reflect the fact thatElan Kugelmass ’14 is the U-Council Chair.