By: Will VanOrder
The 60th Senate of the Associated Students of New Mexico State University (ASNMSU) met yet again on Thursday, Sep. 22. Within the senate chambers on the third floor of Corbett Center Student Union (Corbett), many new and old bills alike were discussed, providing a great opportunity for student organizations to learn just what they need to do to qualify for funding from the university.
At this most recent meeting, the main bills being contested were in regards to funding for an organization within the college of Arts and Sciences. While this particular bill only applies to one organization, it serves as a valuable learning tool for students wanting to get funding for their clubs. To help digest this information, we spoke with Senator Ali Nasirian of the college of Graduate students. Nasirian has been serving ASNMSU as a senator for two years, and has previously served as chairman of the finance committee.
According to Nasirian, ASNMSU is currently in a state of trying to build their funds and save money, so every bill that passes through is given due time to be defended to its fullest. “I think every senate meeting we have at least one or two bills which will take an hour to conclude because of debate and amendments to the bill,” said Nasirian in regards to what takes up the most time in senate. In their most recent meeting, the minutes show Senate ending at 12:30 AM, a six-and-a-half-hour meeting. “In this meeting we had two similar bills which needed to be discussed.”
Most bills which pass through ASNMSU’s senate are appropriations to organizations to help pay for conventions and travel expenses, and these two bills both fell under this category. According to Nasirian, “One of the bills was for a group of students who went on a trip, and they had multiple hotel rooms, registration fees and membership fees on the bill.” This bill was brought under speculation because of the multiple hotel rooms and membership fees included in the bill.
Nasirian stated that while it is not a strict law that ASNMSU follows, a common rule of thumb is that they will typically expect bills to account for one hotel room per four people, and this bill had three rooms for four students. The bill also included membership fees. “The law book is not completely clear on membership fees. Sometimes if you pay a membership fee, then your registration fee will be cheaper,” Nasirian told us. “Some senators believe that paying for membership fees is against the law book, regardless of if it cuts registration fees. We wound up cutting some of the rooms and the membership fee from the bill before pushing it through.”
The second bill was similar to the first in that it included more hotel rooms than ASNMSU will typically approve of for a bill. This led to the same result of some of the rooms being cut from the bill before it being passed through.
According to Nasirian, the ambiguity of the law book in reference to membership fees will lead to amendments being made sooner rather than later. “There will probably be revisions or clarifications made in the law book regarding membership fees,” Nasirian hypothesized. If ASNMSU is looking to remain conservative with their spending, it might be in their advantage to pay for certain membership fees if it cheapens the total expenses of registrations.
Nasirian is currently on the community affairs committee. “We generally go through the community services that organizations are doing on and off campus, and determining if they actually benefit society. That is one of our requirements organizations have to meet before we can give them funding,” he said. “Keep State Great and The Big Event are great options for trying to fulfill some of those community service requirements.”
Some of Nasirian’s parting words were advice to students on how to navigate the senate chambers. “I think the problems faced by these bills were not the fault of the students, but the senators. Before a senator writes a bill he/she should inform the organization of the requirements and potential problems they might face. The senator should be writing that bill completely by himself before bringing it before Senate as a whole.” Nasirian ended by making a request that organizations be mindful of what they try and include on their bills before bringing them into the chambers.