The first Student Government meeting of the year, on September 23rd, began with a new tradition of ringing the Founders bell. Student Body President Haley Lederer and Vice President Charlie Cadden met in front of Founders Hall with the Sophomore Class President Talia Bertrando, nine other students, and Dean Damschroder, who is one of the advisors for Student Government. Cadden said that typically the Class Presidents would be ringing the bell together, but only Bertrando attended the ceremony that night. There they proceeded to all ring the bell (which can be accessed behind a metal panel on the Founders staircase) and proclaimed together “And so begins the next Senate!” The concept of this tradition was introduced by the New Constitution draft last year, and seems to have been adopted by the new Executive Committee. Otherwise, there was little talk of the New Constitution’s ideas at this meeting. Dean Damschroder took pictures, and the ringing ended on a positive note, despite the lackluster performance of the bell itself. The small party left Founders Hall excited, and seemingly full of momentum.
This momentum did not seem to carry through to the Senators’ concrete plans, however. Towards the beginning of the meeting, Lederer asked the Senators what ideas they had or what changes they would like to see on campus. This was met by appeals for “more time” to consider.
The Senators seem anxious not only about their goals, but about the climate and culture of Student Government. “I truly believe that we are in an evil state of mind and need to be cleansed, student government needs to be cleansed,” says April Wells, Co-President of SAUR (Student Advocates for Universal Respect), asking for a consensus about rules of respect that Senators must abide by. “Last year was petty and vicious,” said Wells.
Vidal Glassman, Chair of Policy Committee, said that he would like to see Senate follow a condensed version of Robert’s Rules of Order. Robert’s Rules are a set of formal parliamentary procedures defining how to run a meeting. Student Government does not currently follow Robert’s Rules of Order.
Senators seemed anxious not only with their relationships with each other, but with the Juniatian as well.
Sam Hong, Junior Class President, says “I think the budding relationship between Senate and Juniatian should be discussed. Since members of the Juniatian are sitting with the General Assembly members, maybe they should have a reporter’s section or save questions for the end.” Senators snapped in approval.
April Wells called for Juniatian reporters to send questions they want to ask in interviews to the interviewees to vet first, calling Juniatian interview questions “very attackative” [sic].
For this semester, President Lederer said her goals were to make Senate meetings ADA compliant and to increase visibility of Student Government to the general student population, particularly through events like “Ask a Senator Day.” When asked why meetings weren’t being regularly advertised in order to meet that goal, Lederer said they had not yet worked to do so, but answer, but said they would publicize meetings more in the future. The responsibility of publicizing Student Government meetings falls to Jeanette Harijanto, the Student Government Secretary, who is a member of Executive Committee. At that time there was no publicizing of the Senate meeting either online or in physical poster form.
As of this meeting, Executive Committee was still missing a Treasurer and Officer of Technology, since no one ran for either position. They were actively looking for replacements.
Student Government also voted 15 to 3 (drawing raucous applause) to allow Japanese Club to allocate for their full requested budget to put on Japanese Dinner and several smaller events this year. Japanese Club allocated later than deadline last year and into issues that were not communicated from last year’s officers to this year’s. At the beginning of the year, because of these issues, Japanese Club had no funds at all. Student Government voted to allow the club to receive the full amount they asked for originally without penalizing them 10%, which they say is the fee for asking for allocations later than deadline.
This 10% fee is not written down in Student Government Bylaws, and according to President Lederer, was decided by the discretion of Student Government Treasurer and was written on the forms that clubs use to ask for allocations. The SECA allocations re-registration form does mention this 10% fee. However, the Student Government Bylaws and Constitution do not give the treasurer explicit right to impose a fee. Under Article 7.2.A.2 of the Financial Bylaws, the rubric for permissible allocations requests allows for the ability to establish maximum allowances for food, transportation, equipment fees, programs, etc., but does not explicitly give permission to give penalties, for lateness or otherwise. As of this meeting, Student Government still had no Treasurer.
SAUR announced that during the Homecoming football game they would be staging a protest as they had last year, but instead of kneeling they would raise their fists, and would encourage football players to raise their helmets. They invited Senate to join them.
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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