During Student Government’s October 7th meeting, Executive Committee restricted the period of time that Juniatian reporters (and the rest of General Assembly) could ask questions during the meeting. Executive Committee made this decision in the form of a memo that was read to the Senate explaining that no member of General Assembly would be allowed to ask questions until the very end, when every other item on the agenda had been completed, in order to ensure a “speedy and efficient Senate.” This was a follow-through on requests from Senators, who the meeting before had called for these measures. There was scattered applause, and no comments from any Senators.
This reporter asked if the Senate felt that a gag order on the press would help ensure their stated goal of creating more visibility of Student Government on campus. Senator Sully Stuehrmann said that this was “not a gag order” and that it was normal in any public forum meeting for questions to be held until the end. He also noted that the Student Government Constitution did not include any protections for free speech.
Reporters spent four minutes asking questions at the end of this meeting before Senators made the motion to adjourn. Hugh Gary, Policy member, noted that “Student Government isn’t mature enough in terms of style and in terms of substance of conversation for the Juniatian to ask questions while the meeting is still going,” continuing later on that, “we’re getting there.”
During this meeting Vidal Glassman, Policy Committee Chair, presented a new committee called the Beautification Committee, which will work to increase aesthetic beauty on campus, with a focus on student expression. Glassman expressed that he hoped this project would help to lessen feelings of isolation or loneliness on campus. SAUR members questioned how students could share their genuine voices and opinions through this new committee: for instance, April Wells asked what the process would be if students wanted to put up a mural of Nelson Mandela. There was continued conversation but no resolution to this question, and several SAUR members vocally abstained from the vote when it was called. The vote passed, and the committee was created.
The Juniatian cannot attain official vote counts since Student Government’s Secretary has yet to post any meeting minutes, either in a communal physical space, to the Student Government GitHub, or to the Student Government website.
Haley Lederer elaborated on her goals for this semester, explaining that her top priorities were to increase internal Senate trainings and to increase transparency of Student Government to administration. These internal trainings may include a retreat, and learning mediation and communication skills.
Senator Taylor Hallabuk noted that “I don’t really know how to read that kind of stuff” about the Student Government governing documents, reflecting a sentiment many members of Senate expressed. Glassman explained that Policy Committee would be working on amending the Bylaws, which are simpler to amend than the Constitution, in order to achieve some internal consistency in the rules that Student Government is supposed to follow. Institutionally, Student Government does not currently follow its Constitution or Bylaws. Policy Committee will be giving pared down briefings about what they will be working on during Student Government meetings.
Dylan DesFosses, Treasurer for the Class of 2022, asked if there would be any continuing conversation about the New Constitution movement. The New Constitution was what Vidal Glassman, Rian Fantozzi, and members of Policy Committee and the General Assembly wrote last semester in order to replace the old Constitution with new ideas. These ideas were to be put to a vote by the general student population, which turned out to be deeply controversial (see “Proposed Government” at juniatian.org) in Student Government, and was ultimately never put to a vote due to internal disputes.
President Lederer responded that “nothing has been brought to my attention,” surrounding the New Constitution, and Glassman said that it was “not what we were focusing on.”
Student Government welcomed the new Freshman class officers to Senate. The new Freshman class are President Veta Piscitella, Vice President Natahlia Daversa, Treasurer Nikole Koenig, and Secretary Brandie Ray. They were greeted by applause and whooping, as well as April Wells (SAUR President) commenting that “They’re all female; let’s just acknowledge that!”
Jeffrey Ivicic, sophomore, was appointed the new Treasurer of Student Government. He used to be the Treasurer of Wildlife Society, and also used to work with Executive Committee President Haley Lederer on Allocations Board last year. Student Government is still missing an Officer of Technology, as well as the entirety of Projects Committee.
SAUR updated Student Government that during their protest during the Homecoming football game, one football player from the Juniata College team protested with them by removing his helmet and raising it while they raised their fists. However, the entire opposing team of Ursinus College removed their helmets and participated in the protest with SAUR. Student Government members were not visibly present in the protest, despite SAUR’s invitation at the last meeting.
At the end of the meeting, this reporter asked in what Student Government was doing to help with suicide prevention or healing as a community since the death of a student just a week prior, and since no one had mentioned it at all during the meeting. Karan Nair, Senior Class President, responded saying that this reporter’s tone of voice was inappropriate. Haley Lederer said that an email had been sent out to all Senators regarding the incident. Sam Hong, Junior Class President, said that she could “confidently put my trust in administration” to do the right things. April Wells then said that everyone would be grieving in their own way, and that it was too soon and not the time to be talking about these issues. She called for a moment of silence, saying “We’re not doing nothing, we just didn’t get to it in time.”
Lederer and Cadden have yet to respond with their availabilities to interview requests from the Juniatian. This marks over a month of attempts to secure an in-person interview with the Student Government President and Vice President.
BEHIND THE STORY
Why did we report on this?
Comprehensive student government coverage is important because Senators and Executive Committee are our elected officials, and the Student Body has the right to knowledge about their actions and policies. The writers believe in the power of democracy, and knows that Student Government, administration, and the media were designed to allow for checks and balances upon each other.
How did we get the information to report on this?
Student Government coverage is informed by interviews with Student Government members, notes taken from attending every Student Government meeting, and research done on our own policies and Constitution and on our peer and aspirant colleges’ policies.
How can the reader get more information on the topic covered?
The writers reccomend reading the extensive backlog of the Juniatian’s Student Government coverage, talking to your Senators, and looking into other college’s Student Governments to see what could or should be expected from college government.
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