This weekly feature, which will essentially recount what happened during every Sunday’s Senate meeting, should make the Senate more accessible to their voters. I’ve decided that our student government could use more rapid transparency. Though the Student Union is open to its voters, there isn’t anything directly informing the student body of what their senators are doing from week to week.
1: Resignations, Elections
Vice President Adam Hughes announced his resignation due to personal reasons near the beginning of this week’s Senate meeting, approximately 45 minutes before Tia Chatterjee informed the student body through a mass e-mail. During the meeting, senate members expressed regret over Hughes’ decision, including President Jason Gray.
“Adam has really done a great job of setting the tone we want in this room,” Gray said during the meeting.
Senator for Ziv Quad Andrew Brooks, Hughes’ old opponent, is chairing Senate meetings in his stead until a new Vice President is elected.
Paul Balik, Senator for Class of 2010, is also resigning for personal reasons. Balik worked on the DeisBikes project, which is being continued by Castle Quad Senator Nathan Robinson and Senator for Charles River Chenchao Lu. Chatterjee announced the project’s search for bicycle mechanics in this week’s Senate Announcements.
Chatterjee also announced elections in her mass e-mail concerning Hughes’ resignation. You can find important information about the upcoming elections in Sahar’s latest post.
2: Contesting Administration Decisions
Senate members this Sunday also spoke regarding the administration’s recent decisions concerning scholarships and students studying abroad. First of note, which Loki discussed in a recent post, is J. Scott Van Der Meid’s announcement that merit based scholarships will no longer be accepted for students travelling abroad starting next year. A large number of students have expressed their anger concerning this decision.
“I don’t think it’s acceptable or fair to apply this to people who were already told they would have the study abroad option with their scholarship and used this as a deciding factor to attend this school,” said Gray.
Gray told the Senate to ask their voters to send him their name, story, and a copy of their scholarship to him by tonight so he can properly contest this decision. If your senator has not approached you, I suggest sending Gray this information yourself.
Another point of interest is the decision concerning student housing for those studying abroad. Gray explained the cost to the university when students studying abroad in the spring semester leave uninhabited rooms that remain unfilled by the lower volume of returning fall study abroad students. This issue is becoming increasingly important for the administration to address.
The current set-up requires all students studying abroad to stay in the Village; however since there will still be extra spaces available once students leave in the spring, the administration has decided to place incoming midyears in the Village their first semester.
Many Senate members made arguments that this decision both alienates the midyear class from their fellow freshmen and is a slap in the face to upperclassmen who have slogged through living in requisite freshman dorms, waiting for the opportunity to live in generally higher quality spaces on campus.
Gray proposed bringing members of the administration to the next Senate meeting to discuss this decision.
3: Other Points of Interest
Senator for Class of 2011 Lev Hirschhorn was reconfirmed for his position as chair of the Social Justice Committee. He plans to continue the student rights project and work on gender neutral housing.
Senator for Class of 2010 Rebecca Wilkof was reconfirmed as Outreach chair.
Laura Cohen, previously Director of the Office of Student Rights and Advocacy, was sworn into executive office and is to serve on the executive board.
Applications for the Director of Community Advocacy, a position previously titled “Director of Community Development” and held by Ryan McElhaney, are available on the Union’s website.
Robinson requested that the newspaper program further reduce the number of USA Today in favor of more copies of the New York Times, but this may prove difficult, as the program’s provider is USA Today.
Brooks attempted to add a bylaw which would disallow candidates from coercing voters by handing them their own laptop or wireless device and demanding that they vote. Due to the delicate phrasing of this bylaw, its vote has been postponed another week.