President Tom Gray called the meeting to order at 9:03 PM in the Cole Assembly Room
In a continuation from the last meeting, Tom presented a potential form to be used to track Individual Reform projects. At the beginning of each year student senate members would be required to fill out the form listing a project or goals they want to undertake for the year.
The initial discussion centered on whether it would make sense for senate members to fill out the forms for the remaining of the semester. Some senators worried that this would not be feasible with only three months remaining and that the idea of the reform projects is really long term. Furthermore many thought the reform projects would be more meaningful and effective if they were implemented at the beginning of the school year.
The discussion then shifted toward issues of implementation. Everyone seemed to agree that at least in principle that actually writing down your goals gets you to do something. Senators also questions whether there should be deadline about when the forms needed to be submitted by as well as deadlines for the completion of the project. The issue was also raised whether a committee should oversee these projects, as people will often say they will do something but then chose not to. A suggestion was made that there should be repercussions for not carrying out a project. However many senate members felt this was going a little too far because many senators already have substantial time commitments just by being on their respective committees. A suggestion was made that perhaps certain undefined positions such as class presidents be required to carry out a project. Steve Ruckman said that he would be willing to draft such a resolution and bring it to the next meeting.
In the midst of this discussion senators brought up the fact that the SGO doesn’t really enforce any of its policies. Individual members as well as the body as a whole say that they are going to do things but stuff never gets done. Part of this problem results because of the lag between meetings. Thus a proposal was made to both change the attendance policy and the frequency of the Student Senate meetings.
Motion: A motion was made and seconded to change the number of unexcused absences from Student Senate meetings from 3 to 2. The motion passed unanimously. The corresponding secretary will get stricter about enforcing the attendance policy. It was also decided that the Senate would meet again in two weeks on February 21st.
Tom next reminded the senate that he was still working on a wish list that will be sent to the Alumni. He said if people have further suggestions that they should email him. A few suggestions were presented and Tom added them to the list.
Eric Budish next brought up the fact that the school computer network is pathetically slow especially access to the World Wide Web. Eric suggested that perhaps we could suggest that the administration improves the WWW access with the surplus capital campaign money. Tom and Daniel explained that currently we use UMASS to access the Internet who in turn feed off of MIT. The question was raised why we couldn’t have our own lines that many less prestigious colleges have their own lines and a slow Internet is bad for the school’s image. Tom also believed that the school is waiting for the next generation technology and also they first need to improve the ancient administrative computer network, which will take years and lots of money. Someone commented however that they thought this issue was raised at the last Trustee meeting because the professors are also fed up. Tom said he would investigate this issue further.
Josh Machao next presented revised numbers about the resources such as laundry and vending machines in the dorms. Many senators expressed concern over the disparity of resources but acknowledged that we cannot take action until we invite Stan Adams from physical plant to one of our meetings to find out what is feasible. As in the last meeting the discussion revolved around the need to have more dryers then washers, as the dryers take twice as long and slow down the process and having more access to vending machines. However some Senators questioned whether this was really worth pursuing if many of the changes are not feasible. Adding more dryers doesn’t improve the personal lives of students. It does improve structural and living situations but with limited resources we might need to decide what is our real priority.
The final item of business was a presentation by Andrew Doss, a freshman about creating a morale commission. The goal of such a body would be to improve school spirit and would operate as a separate entity from social council and the SGO but would at the same time collaborate with them. Andrew presented the example of the Zoo crew at Lafayette College where people pay twenty dollars a year to be a member. Everyone who joins gets a Zoo crew t-shirt and goes together to various events to support the school. The idea would be that even if there were only ten people in the group each one of them could take two of their friends with them to an event and attendance would increase dramatically. Senators expressed their approval of this idea however many noted that we have to be careful not to create a further divide between athletics and non-athletics. Many felt that if this is to be implemented we need to increase attendance at all types of events such as concerts, plays etc. and not just athletic events. A few senators commented that school spirit starts with athletics because that is where spirit can most easily be seen. Again this could alienate people but if a sense of community is created that might be good. The idea would be to get musicians going to athletic events and athletes going to music events. Some senators also commented that things could get worse before they get better but that this is a good idea and Andrew should be given the opportunity to give it a shot as long as it is an across the board organization promoting school spirit at all types of events.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 PM