A.S. will make policy exceptions to allow two employees to serve on the senate in what President Conor Lansdale said is a “frequent occurrence.”
“A.S. is a hybrid of student government and a board of directors for a non-profit,” Lansdale said. “This allows us to be flexible and suspend (some policy).”
The student government body routinely makes exceptions to their policy regarding conflict of interest for student senators who are employed by A.S.
Senators for whom these exemptions are made are expected to abstain from voting on any topic that may represent a conflict of interest, although there are no rules to enforce that conduct.
Any senator who is employed by A.S. must report their dual standing to the senate, which then votes on their approval. Once an exemption is made, that senator is allowed to serve with both entities until they choose to terminate their participation, Lansdale said.
According to the A.S. Conflict of Interest Policy Procedure, employee-senators are required to submit a statement of economic interest annually, since the board of directors may be responsible for setting employee compensation.
One of the two employee-senators currently serving, Health and Human Development II Senator Christine Tchalikian said she does not think being an employee will clash with her role as senator.
Tchalikian, 20, a junior kinesiology major, has worked in the USU Fitness Center as a desk attendant for three years. She was inaugurated Tuesday. The facility is administered by the USU but the workers are A.S. employees.
Tchalikian said she would have to choose employment over politics in the rare event that the senate does not approve of the exemptions.
“As much as I like helping others, this job keeps me in school,” she said. “It helps me pay for my tuition and books. In order to help others, I need to be in school.”
Rather than institute a policy that allows any employee to serve on the senate, Lansdale said A.S. makes their decision based on individual cases.
“This protects us from any threats,” he said. “If we approved of all cases, there may be a swarm of employee-candidates who would vote unethically. That is, in a way that would bring them monetary gain.”
Lansdale said no requests for exemption have been denied during his experience.
“AS is very open,” he said. “We are not in the habit of denying students access to serve.”