Lisa M. Chmiola
The University of Houston Students' Association started off the semester by not making a quorum at its Wednesday Senate meeting.
Only five of 23 senators showed up for the 7 p.m. meeting: Honors College Sen. Jackie Johnson, Law Center Sen. Donald Large, School of Social Work Sen. Amaury Nora, At-Large Sen. Monica Quintero and College of Natural Science and Mathematics Sen. Adam Taylor.
"No business can be conducted unless we have 50 percent of the Senators present plus one," said Speaker of the Senate Nathan Wittman.
Since at least 12 senators did not attend, the 10-minute meeting was called to order, roll call was taken, announcements were made and the meeting was adjourned - the only action allowed without quorum according to Title 2, Article 4 of the SA constitution.
Wittman said Wednesday's thunderstorms were one factor preventing senators from attending the meeting, in addition to individual senators having classes scheduled during the meeting time. "They're going to have to make a choice (between taking the class or serving on the Senate)," Wittman said.
Late notification of the meeting time and its changed location may have also contributed to lack of attendance.
"I wasn't notified until 4 o'clock (Wednesday) afternoon," Nora said. "I would have thought the meeting was next week."
Large said he found out about the meeting when he spoke with a member of the SA executive cabinet. However, he did not discover the meeting had been moved from the University Center Bluebonnet Room to Melcher Hall until 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"Given the weather, I'm not surprised (about the low attendance). But I am concerned that Senators are not notified a day in advance," Large said.
Wittman said he began contacting senators Sunday about the meeting, which is "usual. (At) the beginning of the week, we usually give them a call."
The SA constitution does not describe how early notification must be given before meetings, but the Texas Open Meetings Law states, "Notice of a meeting must be posted in a place readily accessible to the general public at all times for at least 72 hours preceding the scheduled time of the meeting." The law applies to all meetings of a governmental body.
"I didn't know that," Wittman said of the meetings law. He added that meeting notification is posted in the SA Senate office, but acknowledged that it is not a highly public location.