The Undergraduate Student Government held a caucus meeting Wednesday night at the University of Connecticut to discuss debate and discussion procedures among members.
The meeting was the first caucus for many newly elected USG Senators and was designed to be a guide to respectful and productive debating during Senate meetings.
The caucus was workshop-style and discussion-based in order to help Senators feel more comfortable debating, as well as explaining debate etiquette.
USG Speaker George Wang led the caucus meeting and stressed the importance of debating within USG.
“I like to think of debate as a sort of marketplace of ideas, where you can put out all your ideas and people can listen to them and say ‘You know what, I agree with this and I disagree with this,’” Wang said
Wang’s tips for debating within the Senate included: listening to other points of view, even if they disagree with your own, and avoiding repetition of previously discussed points.
“If you explain the same ideas, time and time again, that’s very time-consuming, and that’s the reason why in a lot of circumstances last year, we were here until almost midnight,” Wang said. “I’d like to avoid that if possible.”
Wang also said that he can allot more or less time than the standard 10 minutes to Senators when they are debating, depending on the length of the meeting and the importance of the issue.
As an exercise, USG Senators were broken up into small groups of approximately 10 to practice debate with one another on the issue of paying executive board members.
The discussion that followed focused on who was comfortable speaking and whose opinion had changed during the practice debate.
While discussing how comfortable members would be speaking up during a Senate meeting, a debate itself started on whether Senators are given enough time to research topics and legislation before meetings. Wang considered moving legislation deadlines from the Monday the week of the meeting to the Friday before the meeting, giving Senators the weekend to research legislation.
USG President Dan Byrd recalled when he was a Senator and remembered utilizing his weekends to work on longer pieces of legislation.
The issue is expected to be brought up at the next USG Senate meeting.
Schae Beaudoin is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.