General Assembly Notes for 1-17-2012

Here are the General Assembly Notes for the second UW General Assembly 1/17/2012.  Click more to expand.

GA Notes 1-17-2012
(NOTE: I tried to write it so that, essentially, each bullet point is a new person talking. Please read it as such, thanks – Rowdy

Orientation
• GA make decision for the collective not for individuals
• If you have an idea start a group
• Yelling loud does not put you on stack
• Assembly time is precious
• Use the peoples mic, makes us choose our words; don’t know if we need to use the peoples mic tonight though
• Facilitators make space and move the process
• Assembly is responsible for signing to the facilitators
• Other stuff; hand signals
Welcome
• When we do welcoming we say a word or two about what we are here for
• Kelly: student school of social work; doesn’t entirely know why she is here just knows that she wants to be part of something that is making a difference. Looking to develop her current skills
• Cody: here because it’s important to have a public gathering space, especially rooted in communities that we spend a lot of time in. Way UW is set up otherwise doesn’t leave a lot of time for people who are close to each other to actually talk to each other. It’s really important that we’re all talking to each other about our experiences and how we want to see the UW community be so we have a space to democratically generate content
• John: here because he is interested in furthering the idea of setting up a greater Seattle Occupy coalition. Starting a GA for Redmond area.
• Jessica: grad student here with Chem department. Vice Pres of UAW. Here because there are a lot of large systemic problems here at the UW, excited that this group is working on these problems
A Vision for the GA
• Need to talk more about why we are here, what the structure of the GA should be
• Reading out of Vision for the GA document…
• Confused because last week he came here he thought it was related to the Occupy meetings and he wants to know why that happened
• Wasn’t involved in crafting the proposal, but it’s a moot point. The only thing that’s the core peace of the Occupy movement is people meeting in local places to decide what to do
• Asked the UW Gov and they said if you want to join the Senate you should fill out a form
• Had experience dealing with a student government, we should be representing student voices; most of the people on the committee don’t listen to the broad student input
• Thinks we might get more ideas around this if people break into small groups
• General set of purpose would be helpful
• Smaller group discussion get a lot more ideas flowing
• Not sure what we are discussing. Theres been discussion about the purpose of our meetings, but in terms of that he doesn’t know what else there is to do.
• His impression is that there is no central Occupy HUB where people say they are affiliated to
• We should instead discuss why we’re here
• Would be a good idea to come up with something here and tell UW what we want; if we don’t deal with them he doesn’t see how things would change
• In some sense the GA is sort of in a post-modern; we want to act as a body that questions representative bodies. We have to live with that discomfort and tension; its important to think of ourselves as a representative body. Many of these proposals will be that the UWGA officially stands behind members of X, Y, and Z. If we have opinions about how the budget should or should not be used, we should come together discuss what our proposal will be.
• Once we support or don’t support something, do we take action? That’s something she is hoping to see out of this group.
• Maybe this is counterproductive; we should go around and find out why everyone is here. What we want to do.
• Proposals might be interesting as a way of both having a voice that comes out of the GA that you can announce to the rest of the University; the minute the proposal is made there is an understanding that the students support it. Potential idea for structure.
• Not sure why its controversial for the Occupy Seattle autonomy claim. We should vote on whether to have Occupy UW or UWGA. We should be clear that we are not just a protest/petition movement. We should try to carry things out ourselves rather than just ask the administration.
• Forseeable conflict between desire to represent whole student body and desire to take action.
• It’s too early to argue over these details; we should see what it turns into.
Proposals
• This week we will do a simple majority to make a decision
• If we’re gonna start off with a simple majority vote we can’t start on anything other than what our decision making process should be
• We need something to work on the proposals tonight; if it needs to change, we can change it
• Really concerned with the idea of needing to throw some process in there to be able to pass things; rushing the process was what went wrong with Occupy Seattle. We need to prioritize the value of our process together.
• In his experience with Gas for Occupy GA’s, most of them run on consensus. One of the biggest problems in OS is the 50/50 vote. This is horrible and causes significant problems.
• If we did do it by consensus it might not be as democratic as one would imagine. Open to other alternatives though. Maybe 2/3’s or ¾’s.
• Ready to present a proposal which was presented in the draft stage last week. The proposal concerns process, it concerns the identity of this body.
• The key points behind consensus is still similar to a democratic structure in that it is a majority that gets behind, the key process is that you don’t get everyone 100% behind an issue, but that nobody prevents someone blocking that point of view. You still have simple majorities, but everyone agrees not to disrupt it. LA has 1000 people GA’s, work on a consensus model and pass 95% proposals.
• There are lots of different ways consensus can look. Her experience with consensus is that the group identifies shared values; this is necessary for consensus to happen is that one of the ways it can work is that someone blocks it if isn’t with the shared values of the group.
• We should bring about proposals for tonight.
• Jesse Proposals:
o Occupy UW welcomes the full participation of all UW student and workers and also all community members regardless of their student, employment, or membership status.
• Who are we excluding when we pass that proposal?
• We should pass this because it has been stated several times that this is about University politics; but his vision is that this is yet another site where we can participate in direct democracy. This kind of politics can be worked out anywhere else. This is a way of restating how accepting this venue can be.
• Concern is what if the next quarter generation of people interpret it differently.
• You’re never going to ensure that a text is always read a certain way, but this is better than nothing.
• Occupy UW amended to UWGA in the proposal; proposal just passed.
• Student at SCCC; organizing March 1st action. Day of action for education. There’s a huge basis to think that having another day of action for education; creates a bridge for Occupy and students will be hugely valuable. His proposal is for the UWGA to commit to organizing for the March 1st National Day of Action for Education. This would be a huge step forward to have some kind of action in solidarity with people around the country.
• This is just to commit to some kind of action; we can change the details later.
• We should flesh out a body of people interested in a proposal before it is brought forth.
• It helps to separate the two; we should have people endorse the day of action. She knows a lot of people brought proposals last time but none were written down.
• We should really fix the process before we start going forward with the proposals.
• We should save process discussion for a breakout group.
• There is an implicit expectation that proposals be put on paper before they are voted on.
• Jesse Proposal:
o Support a socially responsible investment and support divestment from companies involved in the illegal Israeli occupation of Israels lands
• One of the things important about a GA is to think specifically about what the term solidarity means; we just passed a proposal that would want to make this body relatively open. This is a good example of something that is on the one hand connected to University politics and connected to something specific about politics globally. Wanted to make that distinction.
• Socially responsible is up to interpretation. Also, what if it turns out that there is no sufficient supplier to find an alternative.
• The endowment comes from what the University gets in from the state, etc. – 1.7 billion
• There are a lot of complications; language of socially responsible is easily coopted. If you don’t have any language like socially responsible to interpret then you can never come to solving social problems. This is a concern of the GA, if there is actually a movement then the GA could be supportive and talk about it then.
• Endowment: reservoir on investment that the University takes out to support programs at the University.
• If we reimagine proposals as something that isn’t dogmatic, but actually a way for people to learn more about other issues, then it closes doors.
• Vote:
o Yes – 18
o No – 0
o Abstain – 4
• Jesse proposal
o Events or actions that are advertised as being sponsored or organized by Occupy UW should be approved by the general assembly; Occupy UW does not seek to suppress the autonomous actions of individuals or groups who are in Occupy UW.
• Change to UWGA instead of Occupy UW.
• To say should doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be.
• Change should to must
• The purpose of this is twofold: no one should misrepresent the time that spend here in direct democracy, and we are not here to quash the actions of individuals or groups who come here
• Wondering if maybe the second clause could have a more stronger word in it.
• Change to will not suppress
• Vote:
o Yes — 24
o No — 0
o Abstain – 1
Break Outs
• Collaborative tabling effort for GA
• Occupation of Odegaard
• Process
• Abstraction
Preproposals
• That we do not vote on things as this body and that is not the purpose of this body; not to generate collective yes/no decisions. The purpose is not to vote on things; but we should use this time here to share with each other why we came here and how it is that we can help each other out. We should keep our discussions grounded.
• We shouldn’t use GA time to vote on whether or not to endorse certain actions or events.
General Announcements
• We’re gonna be tabling for GA; should not have a big Occupy Seattle sign on it. We can take event fliers/materials from other groups who want to share whats going on on campus. Mondays and Wednesdays. Jasmine has a sing up sheet.
• Those who were working on BDS are meeting Thursday. Also getting together to watch a certain documentary. To those who are finding this a new subject for them. Thursday evening at 7pm.
• Theres a form on the website to submit pre-proposals.
• If you don’t understand abstraction you should talk to me about it because it will help your life.

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