Johnson_ASUM gavel

Former senator Garrett Miglin, a third year law student, said the Associated Students of the University of Montana mishandled multiple conflicts when he resigned at ASUM’s March 8 meeting. 

Miglin said he believed it was wrong for ASUM to single out one individual last semester when he claimed there were multiple confidentiality breaches for people applying to serve as senators that ultimately led to the senate’s interview committee being dissolved and replaced. 

“We only named one senator, the other retained their anonymity,” Miglin said. He did not specify which senator he was referring to that may have been involved in the confidentiality breaches. 

Miglin went on to say he is afraid the senate won’t change in lieu of all the difficult situations it has faced. 

“We will pass the buck to either the next senate or to the student body,” Miglin said. 

He shared in his speech that he was not a part of the Kaimin’s recent story on alleged illegal conduct by another senator and finished by saying that he would not stand for questions, as the record speaks for itself. 

Another senator resigned at ASUM’s budget confirmation meeting on March 13. Emma Wickum has served on the senate since spring 2022, and served as the chair of the relations and affairs committee, which most bills must be sent through. 

In her resignation speech, Wickum said that she left ASUM because of her mental health and wellbeing. 

Wickum felt she was overworked and underappreciated by ASUM, and was sacrificing too much of herself for the organization. 

Wickum also said that there is one executive who she believes lets personal relationships and disagreements stand in the way of progress, but again, did not specify who. 

“Look around the room, and see that there are some here for the right reasons and others are here for the little taste of power,” Wickum said. 

Wickum continued, stating that some  senators say they represent the students, but bar students from participating in meetings because it could hinder the senate’s process. 

“This organization could do great things, but that starts with change, and I know that that keeps getting brought up,” Wickum said. “But I urge you all to start making it, work outwardly and bridge the gap that the students outwardly see, make a judicial branch so the students know we see their concerns.”

Wickum ended her speech by saying she believed some senators tuned her out the second she started talking, but knew others listened. 

“I hope you all take this to heart as you go into election season, and though I will not be answering questions at this time, if you want to sit down and have a chat with me about anything I have said in this statement please feel free to reach out,” Wickum said. 

Outside of the two resignations, the student government is preparing for its election on April 26 and 27. At the March 8 meeting, the senate announced that it hired senator Jared Gibbs to be the elections coordinator, meaning he will not be running for reelection per ASUM’s laws.  

“The work I will be doing is more behind the scenes, such as making sure forms are available and up to date, and that the procedure of the election and policies are implemented,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs said he will focus on making sure that the system is chugging along, but urged ASUM to understand when it's appropriate to speak to him as a fellow senator versus as the election coordinator. 

Senator O’Shay Birdinground asked Gibbs about his outreach plans for this election. Last year, ASUM’s election turnout did not reach the 12% voter threshold for referenda, or campus wide policy changes, to technically pass. 

This meant that a referendum on the ballot last year calling for free counseling did not pass, despite broad support from students who did vote.

“Once the election's registration process begins on [March 13], and then closer to election date, I will be contacting advisers such as Honors, GLI, and Pre-Law advisors,” Gibbs said. “The M&O [Market and Outreach] Committee will brainstorm and conduct outreach strategies to [make us] confident on reaching relevant thresholds.” 

Vice President Alexandra Berna gave kudos to Gibbs for stepping up to be the election coordinator. 

“Use Jared as a resource, any questions go to him,” Berna said. “He will give a better answer.” 

ASUM saw five resolutions at the March 8 meeting, four of which involved the upcoming election. The first one was Senate Bill 19. Authored by senator Wyatt Balius, it revised campaign rules for referenda. 

Senator Gibbs said the campaign window is too short. Under this bill, as soon as a referendum’s text passes the senate, people can begin campaigning for it with a $300 limit on spending.

President Elizabeth Bowles said that it is beneficial to have early referenda campaigns. She argued it will allow for more name recognition for ASUM. 

“I think this is a good idea. I haven’t been through an election, but referenda are designed to benefit students,” Senator Buddy Wilson said.

SB 19 passed unanimously. 

ASUM then passed three resolutions approving the language for resolutions raising registration fees for three member organizations.

Senate Bill 29, which calls for an increase for the general ASUM fee, passed unanimously. The current fee is $70 each semester for full time students.

ASUM’s student activity fee would total $76, and add an estimated $94,000 to ASUM’s budget, if the election reaches the 12% voter turnout and voters approve it.

Senate Bill 28 is advocating for the increase in ASUM transportation fee by $4. The fee would total $49 per full time student, and $38 per part time student. 

SB28 passed unanimously. 

Senate Bill 30 advocated for a three dollar increase in the Kaimin’s fee, which would total $9 on  a full time students’ registration bill if it passes.

SB30 passed with a 14 to 0 vote. Senators Birdinground and Brandon Smith abstained, stating they have conflicts of interest because of personal relationships with the Kaimin and its staff. 

The last resolution seen on the floor was Senate Bill 32, authored by Wilson, which would implement civic requirements for senators. The resolution states each senator must complete one hour of civic engagement each month, and their service would be overseen by the vice president. 

The bill passed 10-4 with one abstention. 

ASUM will meet again on March 29, and does not have a set agenda yet.