At Monday’s SA senate meeting, members discussed a vetoed bill on senate’s ability to go into executive session, members gave updates on senator office hours, and addressed other projects. Here’s our summary.
Executive Session Bill
The Bill: The senate spent an hour discussing a bill that would, when someone is being considered by senate for appointment to an SA position, allow senate to automatically enter an “executive session,” wherein every person not an SA official (and the potential appointee) would leave, all cameras would be turned off, and no notes would be taken.
Senate passed the bill — which was drafted by senior Senator Tayfun Sahin — unanimously last week, but it was vetoed by senior and SA President Jamal Holtz on the grounds that it reduced transparency.
The Debate: Throughout the debate, three camps emerged.
One agreed with Holtz that the bill would unduly restrict the right of students to know the actions of their representatives.
The second felt the bill would preserve the integrity of the nomination process by allowing senators to speak honestly on appointees, without the burden of social pressure.
The third camp considered the bill to be, in the words of All-Campus Judicial Council Chief Justice junior Connor Sandagata, “mostly useless” because of its supposed lack of relevance to most students.
The Highlights: Sophomore Senator Summer Mills said, “We didn’t thoroughly read the bill,” highlighting the fact that senate had, just last week, unanimously passed the policy change now stirring contention.
First-year Senator Devon Rogers said that if anyone who had an issue with a potential appointee, they should be able to say it to their face. “We must not be timid,” he said, adding that if this honesty makes other senators uncomfortable, “that’s something [they] gotta deal with.”
Sahin accused Holtz of appointing his friends to executive positions without due process. Holtz asked Senator Sahin for specific examples and Sahin refused to respond on the record.
The Vote: The final vote to overturn the veto came up with 9 No votes and 5 Yeses.
Office Hours Update
Senator Lea Thome is setting up senator office hours (currently Fridays 3-5 p.m. in the Ruth Merrill room) where students can tell senators what they want done, fixed, or changed around campus.
Last Friday, only three senators showed up, and even fewer expressed that they had conflicts. Only one student attended the office hours.
Thome expressed disappointment in her fellow senators for not showing up or alerting her to conflicts. She urged them to put more effort into connecting with the student body.
Senior Senators Remsha Rafiq and Sahin are working to improve disability services on campus. They want to do this by having a mandatory disability awareness training for all faculty, and planned to suggest this to the Disability Awareness Club later in the week.
Sophomore Senator Brendon Tran is working to repeal a Goergen Athletic Center policy preventing people from working out in a sports bra without a shirt.
Sahin and junior Senator Justyna Gorka want an email sent out to the college whenever there’s an incident of sexual assault on campus. They’re meeting with Public Safety to figure out if that’s legal.
Senator Akshay Sharathchandra has been crunching data from the course evaluation surveys sent out to the student body after finals last May. He’s meeting with a task force this week to consider student input and improve the evaluation system.
President Jamal Holtz is working with administration to ensure that when an email like the one about the racial slur in Susan B. Anthony Hall is sent, faculty will be included. He wants this done because the faculty are also a part of our campus community.
Discussion of Tibet Democracy Event
The senate debated releasing a statement on the recent unrest sparked by the College Republicans’ event on Tibet.
The tension began when alternative posters were tacked beside the event’s posters, and continued into the Q&A portion of the event, when students opposed to Tibetan independence distributed documents. Things came to a head at a confrontation outside Starbucks between Tibetan monks (on campus for an unrelated visit with students) and Chinese international students.
After lengthy discussion, senate decided they were not sufficiently informed to release a statement.
Correction (9/30/19): An earlier version of this article said that Gorka was a sophomore. She is, in fact. a junior.