Tom Gray called the meeting to order at 9:00pm in the Cole Assembly Room.
Absent from the meeting: Bian Yu, Josh Fischel, Debbie Cook, Luke Blocher, Steve Vladeck, Kathy Klein, Scott Wands, Josh Machao, David Breslin, Seth Birnbaum, Sam Charap, Javier Festa
The first item of business was the discussion of four proposals brought forth by Steve Ruckman.
Proposal 1: Changing the constitution to require class presidents and college council members to complete one project a semester to improve the welfare of their classes and or the student body.
The initial discussion focused mainly on proposing friendly amendments to change the wording of the proposal. The principle change that Senators focused on was changing the wording that stated failure to complete these projects would result in “automatic dismissal form the SGO.” Many senators felt that the word automatic was unnecessary. A consensus was reached that “automatic” should be eliminated from the resolution.
Discussion then shifted to the discussion of requiring projects in general and whether such a requirement should also apply to other senate members. Steve commented on how he purposely designed the proposal to apply to be specific and apply just to those positions that had vague descriptions of responsibility. Discussion revolved around the fact that some committees are very involved while others are not yet this isn’t always the fault of the student. Sometimes the faculty or the trustees don’t want to meet. The suggestion was made that perhaps students could be made more accountable for showing up at their committee meetings as a step towards ensuring that they are involved as a member of student government. A further suggestion was made that committee reports be reinstated at the beginning of each senate meeting. By doing this not only would the entire senate know what each committee is doing but also committee members themselves would be accountable for presenting a status report about their committee.
A Motion was made and seconded to pass proposal one as amended. The motion passed 22 if favor, 1 against and 4 abstentions.
Proposal 2: Changing the number of student senate meetings
A Motion was made and seconded to vote on proposal two as written. An objection to vote was raised. The senate voted 9 to 6 with 9 abstentions to proceed with voting on the motion. The motion passed 15 in favor, 4 against, 5 abstentions.
After the change in proposal 2 a question was raised about the feasibility of the proposal passed at the last meeting lowering the number of excused absences from 3 to 2. Senators felt that with the new meeting schedule the number of absences should be returned to its original level. This motion passed unanimously.
Proposal 3- To require “Professional sexual harassment training” for the SGO, SoCo and the Program Board at the beginning of each year.
Tom Gray noted immediately that the Student Senate had no authority to dictate the actions of SoCo or the Program Board but could only make recommendations as to their course of action. Thus the discussion focused on whether this proposal would be a good idea for the SGO. Some senators felt that passing such a resolution requiring such training of the SGO while recommending such train for other organizations would look good for the SGO. Senators next questioned how Steve envisioned such training working as many found the training in the Merrill first semester to not be very useful. Steve commented that the student groups doing the potential training wouldn’t have the same agenda that Gretchen Kroll did. Other senators commented that they thought the training was useful because many of the school policies were unknown to them. Others responded that two hours of training really can’t make people aware and besides many all freshmen receive similar training during the course of their first year. Another senator argued that you can’t necessarily change people’s minds but by holding such a training session you at least give them the opportunity to learn something even if they just keep a handout that they might refer to when an issue comes up.
The conversation then shifted to an alternative suggest that perhaps the SGO should make clubs and other campus organizations aware that they can come to us with their issues. Once the SGO is aware of certain issues it can then decide on the best course of action. Concerns were raised that some organizations have certain political agendas and may not necessarily represent the overall interests of the campus. Furthermore, senators worried that by making clubs come to the SGO the burden is placed on them to make the SGO aware. Chapin Fay proposed that we try allotting a certain amount of time in each SGO meeting where the E-board will invite a certain club or campus group to come and let us know their concerns. Chapin suggested that this could potentially improve the relations between the SGO and various clubs and problems wouldn’t arise as long as the SGO is careful not to take on political agendas.
A Motion was made and seconded to table Proposal 3 for three meetings and in the interim enact Chapin’s proposal to judge its effectiveness. It would be up to the E-board to invite a club for the next meeting. The motion passed: 21 in favor 2 opposed 2 abstentions.
Proposal 4- Requiring Student Senators Attendance and Project record to be published in the Student with their election statements.
Initial discussion revolved around the fact that reporting on attendance is ok but it is very subjective to publish whether a person has successfully completed the actions he or she said she would. Questions were raised similar to discussion about proposal 1. Senators wondered whether such statements about a candidate’s previous activity would include committee actions because once again some committees require a significant time commitment. A suggestion was made that candidates could voluntarily include any projects they had completed and perhaps the e-board could sign off on the statement if they deemed it to be accurate. A number of members wondered whether this might look too much like an endorsement for the candidate by the E-board. Other senators suggested that this is really about trust and candidates should be trusted to be honest.
A number of friendly amendments were made to the proposal. Essentially the revised proposal reads that the list of absent Student Senate members for each meeting will be included with the minutes on the web. Furthermore the corresponding secretary will include the attendance records of any current members of the SGO running for another position with their election statement.
A motion was made and seconded to pass the proposal as amended. 18 in favor 4 against.
The meeting concluded with updates on three ongoing items of business. Daniel Cooper discussed the distinguished teaching award and will bring a formal proposal to the next meeting. Andrew Doss updated the SGO on the fun police and will keep us informed after trying it out at a couple of events. Ned B. Friend said that he would like to do another SGO survey because it is very helpful when meeting with the trustees. He said he is willing to do the legwork but wanted input from the senate members via email as to what type of questions to ask.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:35 pm