Meeting Date: 2/27/17

By Lumi Schildkraut, News Editor

Top take

  • Senate narrowly voted against a motion (5–6–5) to dissolve the Constitution Task Force (CTF) following a contentious debate that broached issues of transparency, CTF composition, and progress of the Students’ Association (SA) Constitution rewrite.

  • Debate was spurred by a letter written and read by Senator Joseph Stephens, motioning “to dissolve the [CTF] and further commit its members to submit a comprehensive report on its proceedings such that the next Senate can benefit from what work has been accomplished in the committee.” Stephens questioned how transparent the task force has been, argued that it has overstepped its mission by seeking to reorganize the entire structure of the government, and said its makeup was too inexperienced and had too many appointed, not elected, members. Stephens called for SA to focus not on a constitution rewrite but instead on finishing out the year strong. Stephens said that Senate has passed four times as less resolutions, statements, bills, and reports, and expressed concerns about whether CTF would be able to produce a viable document for the upcoming spring elections. Stephens threatened to campaign and vote against a new constitution.

  • Other senators took the opportunity to question the transparency of CTF’s process.

  • Senator Johansen noted that there have been lapses in communication, with emails to Elections and Rules Committee Chair Jake Braniecki going unanswered. Senator Gil expressed concerns that the first time structure was discussed was this past Friday. Braniecki noted that Friday was the first day structure discussed in CTF meetings, but that requests for structure proposals had been sent out to SA in the prior weeks.

  • Senator Rabenold called on the CTF to provide a full picture of what is going on with the rewrite and felt that four weeks was not enough time for “things to be done right,” noting specifically that spring break was not going to result in any progress on the document. Rabenold agreed with Stephens that the CTF should provide a report enabling SA to continue rewriting and complete the new constitution in the next few years.

  • Senator Ollarvez noted that the first time he had seen any mention of the constitution rewrite to a non-SA audience was in an article in the Campus Times.

  • Several senators noted that public events and outreach proposed—forms, polls, town halls, and public forums—had not been brought up at all

  • Senator Pachter felt the progress made should be kept, but that the student body needs to be involved and have a say in the document.

  • Several senators and other SA members offered opposing opinions and ideas on that: Senator Matthews repeatedly expressed the feeling that students don’t care about what SA does and therefore there is no need to have them involved in the rewrite process. Senator Awayda contested the discussion on a lack of transparency, explaining that he feels that the “CTF updates are full of information.” Senator Foti called emails “shady” and called for all aspects of the rewrite to occur in a “public forum.” Foti additionally suggested that Senate wait a week to see how the process advances before voting to strike down CTF. Senator James expressed concerns that what the CTF is doing is being misrepresented and that the concerns being brought up were amounting to an attack on the work the CTF had done up to that point.

  • SAAC Chair Nicholas Mavrelis criticized Senate for waiting so long to bring up concerns.

  • SA Vice President Lance Floto suggested that the rewrite be a two-year process that is carried over to next year’s SA Government. Floto added that people on CTF should remain, but there a reorganization of the CTF also needs to be considered.

  • Braniecki explained to Senate that he was meeting with SA advisers this week to reassess the situation and determine if it is still possible to create a viable constitution for spring elections.

  • Senate charged CTF with holding a public forum on the constitution rewrite within two weeks (Vote: 8–2–4).

Other bits

  • New Organization Proposal forms must be submitted on CCC by noon on March 1.

  • The Academics committee is writing a survey on health, nutrition, and fitness education at UR, which is expected to go live this week.

  • UR Cooking Club was granted preliminary status. The club existed formerly and is being revived by students.

  • Administration and Review Committee (ARC) analysts are looking at the criteria for group recognition and at creating a final recognition form, which would codify questions ARC asks when deciding whether it should grant an organization final recognition.

  • ARC has started a project to sponsor a bill relating to shared resources between SA Government and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs. The final result is expected to mirror that of the relationship between SA and special interest housing.

  • ARC is working with Wilson Commons Student Activities (WCSA) to work out logistics for distribution of the Disability Checklist.

  • ARC leadership will be reviewing and approving all SOAR (Student Organization Annual Review) feedback and grades, after graders do a final review of the organization they are responsible for. Graders will be submitting a list of organizations they recommend for further review. The recommendations will include a rationale explaining the need for further review.

  • The Campus Services Committee will be meeting with Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jonathan Burdick on Wednesday to discuss an initiative to create multilingual maps, campus tours, and orientation and convocation materials.

  • Riverview Intersection IMPACT Petition: Campus Services Committee is planning to look into situation. SA President Vito Martino noted that he discussed issue at last week’s Rochester City Council meeting. Martino expects the City Council to discuss the situation more this week

  • The Campus Services Committee has moved its meeting time from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

  • The Elections and Rules Committee has been working on policy relating to steering and succession.

  • Constitution Task Force has been working on the constitution rewrite. At Monday’s CTF meeting, consensus was reached that ARC and SAAC should sit under the SA Senate. CTF planning to hold an extended session this week to discuss the structure of SA Government more.

  • The Student Life Committee is working on the “UR A Star” Award.

  • Student Life is sending emails relating to the International Student Involvement project.

  • $425 was released to ROC Players for advertising.

  • $1,000 was released to WRUR for equipment.

  • SAAC is working with Athletics, Intramurals Program, Club Sports Council, club sports student organizations, and ARC to reorganize club sports program.

  • Students can now apply to be an ACJC justice. Students can sign up for an interview time online.

  • Impact Week is Mar. 6-10. SA is considering moving it to the fall semester.

  • 5K Challenge Update: Facilities is “on board” with the implementation of Pads and Tampons Initiative. SA is developing a data collection plan for the program. Floto estimates implementation to begin either the week of March 27 or April 3.

  • Headspace Initiative: CARE supportive of the initiative. Attempting to partner with UHS on the initiative.

  • $30,000 released to Drama house to revamp its lighting system.

  • Up to $45,000 released to the Student Programming Board from reserves for D-Day.

  • SA and WCSA are looking into the creation of a closet and sink in the painted tunnel.

  • Floto expects the Welliora Campaign to be implemented for spring semester the week of April 17 or April 24.

  • Interpres Yearbook had its recognition revoked by SA, effective at the end of the current academic year. ARC explained that Interpres had reached out to ARC and said this would be the last year of the organization. Interpres Yearbook has been on probation since spring 2016 semester.

  • The Pact: A Personal Mentoring Program was granted SA recognition. The Pact is a community service network group that provides students at nearby Wilson High School with professional, personal, and academic support.

  • Alexandria Brown, who is a member of the Campus Times Editorial Board, was appointed as Deputy Chair of Campus Services.

  • Rita Pecoraro was appointed to sit on the Campus Services Committee

  • Simon Budker was appointed as an Executive Aide for Public Relations.

  • SA approved legislation titled “Resolution on Maintaining Open and Regular Communication with the student body” that pertains specifically to Academics committee and mirrors a bill passed recently by Student Life Committee

  • Senate passed a bill to “Demand Transparency on Tuition Increases” in response to the recent email from UR on next year’s rates for tuition and room and board.

  • Senate tabled a bill regarding senator succession. A Bylaws revision is being considered that would extend the length of time prior to the end of the academic year that requires that a new senator fill a vacancy on the Senate. Period extended from five weeks to 10 weeks.

Next meeting

  • Monday, March 6 in the Gowen Room

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