By Jade Nicole Yeban
Chief of Staff
As Chief of Staff, a lot of my job has to do with the infrastructure of USGD and holding members of the government accountable for their jobs. In this post, I’ll be giving you all a #BehindtheScenes look at how we keep each other accountable! If you’re a student leader, some of these methods may come in handy to further the professionalism and responsibility of your organization.
- The Strike System
Last year, the legislature really looked at trying to enhance the accountability system within USGD. This was when the strike system was initially passed; strikes are basically penalties for failure to complete tasks, meet deadlines or violating the bylaws. Some examples of actions that would constitute a strike is failing to turn in an Accountability Report Form, a blog post or failing to complete the necessary amount of office hours per week. Also, failing to post agendas or minutes online in time would also constitute a strike. Strikes are a way of counting violations to accountability, while still allowing room for a little bit of error. Strike notifications are given within 5 days of the violation and then are publically issued at Senate Meetings biweekly. Our current system allows for 5 strikes a semester.
- Accountability Report Forms
Our staff is required to turn in an ARF at 2:30 p.m. every Friday. This ARF is essentially a Google form that asks when that member did their office hours for the week, where they did them and what they accomplished during them. The ARF is new this year – a modified version of the “Weekly Activities Report Form” that existed in the previous legislature. This was a document that members had to fill out in our Google Drive every week, but it was much longer and asked many more questions than the current form. The ARF is responsive, easy, mobile-friendly and quick — all things that this year’s government asked for in a report form.
- Absence Points
Per our bylaws, each member of the government acquires absence points whenever he or she is absent. We are currently in the works of changing the way our absence points work, but here’s the general gist: if you miss too many meetings, you’re considered nonfeasant. Points are recorded by committee chairs, the Senate President and me in a Google spreadsheet. Points can be racked up by missing any meeting, including committee meetings, President’s Meetings, Senate Caucus and Senate Meetings as well as anything deemed mandatory by the Senate President.
- Holding Each Other Accountable
Sometimes, it can be hard to remember the different deadlines that we have (not that we have too many). Holding each other accountable is essential to an organization’s professionalism and responsibility; simple reminders to complete tasks like the ARF or posting minutes are easy ways to do so. However, holding each other accountable and can be much more complex than a simple text message. It can even take place in the Government Operations Committee, when a member may appeal a strike they were issued; it is up to those members to hold the appealing staff member accountable for receiving a strike. It can even take place when the senate must vote to declare a member of the staff nonfeasant upon the accumulation of five strikes or reaching the cap on absence points; the Senate must remember that they set a precedent for the structure of the organization, and strikes are important, vital pillars that are there for a reason. If we do not govern by our bylaws, we might as well rid them.
- Holding Yourself Accountable
The most important thing, I think, is to hold yourself accountable for the tasks and duties you have to do. Not every job beyond student government will be full of kind-hearted people that will text you to remind you of your deadlines. Set your own reminders! Write it on your hand, put in your phone or your agenda. Take responsibility when you miss a deadline or violate a bylaw and, when you feel like you have been wrongfully issued one, appeal it with the proper process. Professionalism, responsibility and accountability all begin within.