House loses quorum during final vote
The Undergraduate House ended the year with a meeting out of the "Twilight Zone." The surreal session teetered on the edge of quorum all night. It combined misty-eyed farewell speeches from graduating seniors with hard-nosed political maneuvering that killed the immigration resolution permanently.
Knowing that some members would have to leave early, Executive Vice President Nate Watson ran the first half of the meeting like an auctioneer, talking a twice normal speed and warning representatives against frivolous motions. The House dealt with thirteen bills in rapid succession.
Reps passed without discussion a slate of three allocation bills. They also slated and chartered five new student organizations, including the Do-It-Yourself Audio Club, Catalyst Ministries and the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. Reps also approved appointment of seven new Undergraduate Judiciary Cabinet Justices who will serve next year.
And then, the wheels came off. During consideration of an allocation bill that would alleviate GT Motorsports's budget shortfalls, four reps had to leave to perform in a concert. Quorum was lost. What followed was a flurry of phone calls to absent reps, urging them to either show up, or resign so as to favorably alter the quorum ratio.
In the mean time, outgoing Student Body President Tiffany Massey delivered her final speech to the House. Saying that holding elected officials accountable was very important, she handed out a flyer listing both her accomplishments and her failures. Massey said of the 14 objectives on her campaign platform, 12 were successfully met. The two goals not reached were expansion of the midterm grading system, and keeping the Student Athletic Center open 24 hours a day.
To kill more time in the desperate quest to establish quorum, graduating seniors addressed the House.
Finally, quorum was reestablished, and the meeting resumed. Reps passed two bills allocating about $11,000 to GT Motorsports. They also allocated about $550 to Tech Beautification Day in order to pay for T-shirts. This new bill came up after Graduate President Alan Michaels vetoed an earlier version.
Attention then turned to the immigration resolution. This bill calls for international students at Tech to be treated fairly by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Since January, multiple versions of the bill have come up for discussion, each with different wording designed to placate opponents. Last week, Biology Rep Srikanta Banerjee turned against the resolution, which he strongly supports, on the condition that the House would consider a new version this week.
"If we do this," Banerjee said last week, "please don't let us down." Banerjee, along with Representatives Nishant Mehta, Eman Kirbah and Hunter Oates wrote a new resolution.
In what appeared to be an intentional move, representatives Bill Asher, Jen Hinkel and Josh Alexander left just as consideration of the resolution began. Quorum was once again lost. Because this was the last meeting of the year, the immigration resolution was lost, and the House adjourned for the last time this year.