Student Senate

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Student Senate serves two primary purposes. First, it is the student body's legislative body for student affairs, most notably the distribution of club budgetary money and disbursement of the Senate Discretionary Fund. Second, it is the students' primary advocate for student interests to the faculty, staff and administration, and to that end passes a lot of resolutions and conducts a lot of committee work making recommendations for reform.

Senate meets every Thursday at 7 p.m. in CFA 110.

[edit] Senators

Senators are elected early in Fall Term to serve for the school year. Each year the Executive Board draws election districts from which senators are elected.

See also List of current and former District Senators

[edit] Executive Board

The Executive Board, comprising the President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer (and since 2006 the four committee chairs), steers the activities of Senate and draws election districts. The Executive Board meets once a week, but nobody knows when, and no minutes are published.

The four executive officers are the four members of the Student Life Committee (SLC), which distributes the Student Activity Fee Fund (approx. $300,000 for 2006-07).

The Student Life Committee voted to pay the four executive officers a stipend of approximately 10 hours per week ($7.50/hr) during the summer of 2006 and was not discussed by the general student senate. The stipend is identical to those paid to student leaders of organizations like Union Board, Catch and TKS. Those stipends have been in place for many years.

[edit] Current Executive board 2018 / 2019

See also List of current and former Executive Board members

See also Senate Website

[edit] Committees

There are five standing Student Senate committees: Dining Services, Finance, Residential Quality of Life, Safety and Services, and Technology. They each meet once a week throughout the week to discuss campus issues and write resolutions.

Committee Meeting Times

[edit] Student Senate Update

At least once per week the Communications Officer sends a Student Senate Update e-mail to the entire campus, containing the minutes of the previous meeting. These minutes are meant to be word-for-word, but as a single person collects them by typing them as quickly as possible as things are said, they are generally not completely verbatim. Senators are, however, sent the minutes prior to the campus wide email with the opportunity to correct them. Senators are also encouraged to email text of extended statements to the Senate Clerk. Non-senators, on the other hand, do not have the opportunity to correct their remarks, and thus their views are more often inadequately expressed in the minutes. Moreover, whereas in previous years the Clerk was a neutral body and not permitted to participate in debate, the current Senate administration has allowed the Clerk to participate in debate on numerous occasions, raising serious questions of bias in Senate recordkeeping.

The only way to get the full experience is to attend the meeting.

[edit] Club Budget Process

The Finance Committee administrates the club budget process. At the beginning of Spring Term, representatives of all clubs must attend a meeting that explains the process. Soon after all clubs may bring draft budgets to members of the Finance Committee, who can provide assistance. All clubs submit final drafts, and then the committee apportions funds based on the total quantity of money available from the Student Activity Fee.

[edit] Controversies

[edit] Budget Process 2006

The budget decisions in 2006 caused a huge uproar because several clubs received less money then was usual when they failed to follow the detailed budget rules correctly. Notable clubs that protested their assignments at the 18 May 2006 Senate meeting included Caxton Club, Martial Arts Club, Badminton Club, Cricket Club, and Common Ground.

The problems with the 2006 process led to major reforms and simplifications in the budget process during the 2006-2007 school year. Many say the subsequent budget process has gone much more smoothly, but for others, concerns remain regarding a variety of changes such as the new cap on the budget a club can request for a year and a (much lower) cap on additional funds/budget requests for a new club's first year.

[edit] Executive Board By-Laws Rewrite 2007

Shortly after election of the new Executive Board for the 2007-2008 school year, President-elect Brad Middleton, AJ Ross, and possibly others began rewriting the Senate By-Laws in secret. They were presented to the Executive Board for approval at its last meeting of the 2006-2007 school year on May 23. Prior to that point, most of the Executive Board knew nothing of the proposed By-Laws changes, although they had been leaked to other sources.

There were two primary changes: The less controversial change added agreement by unanimous consent to the By-Laws. The second major change radically altered the procedural structure by which Student Senate considers resolutions. Whereas previously the Senate considered motions brought to the floor on the floor and only referred them to committee on occasions when the issues required significant development, the changes require that all resolutions be referred to committee unless the Chair (typically the President) or a 2/3 majority of Senate (the same threshold used for amending the constitution) decide to refer it directly to the floor. In committee, a resolution must gain the support of the committee chair (and in result the Executive Board) as well as the administration before it may be debated on the Senate floor.

The Executive Board approved the changes unanimously, and according to Senate President Brad Middleton they will be introduced as law in the first Senate meeting of the 2007-2008 year.

The objections were twofold: first, the Executive Board had fundamentally altered the procedures by which Senate does business without allowing Senate to vote on the matter. The Executive Board justified itself using Article 4 Section 1 Clause 3 of the Student Senate Constitution, which states "The Executive Board shall have the power to act for the full Senate at times when the Senate is not in session." The Executive Board apparently interpreted this as carte blanche, while others feel that it is an abuse of the caretaker powers assigned to Senate. The question of further use of this privilege appeared in the Discourse article, including concerns that the Executive Board could nullify acts of Senate after Senate had adjourned, or act in regard to resolutions it considered particular desirable or undesirable, crippling or approving them between Thursdays and then reporting the results as a fait accompli.

The second objection concerned the actual new resolution procedures. The changes have been interpreted to mean that the Executive Board and the administration now have the power to kill resolutions they do not like, irrespective of the opinions of the Senate. Multiple members of the Executive Board have suggested that they can be trusted not to abuse this power, but some question may be raised as to the honesty of that, considering the method by which the changes were approved; also, regardless of whether or not it is consciously abused, the style of power such an amendment allows may well put the student body's definition of abuse, which would center on maintaining its democratic right to control its Senate, at odds with the Executive Board's, which will apparently focus more on cultivating a relationship with the administration and deciding bills in small committees and among the Board than respecting the sense of Senate and the student body as a whole.

Although not specified in the amendment, Senate President Brad Middleton suggested that the motion to move a resolution directly to the floor would occur during the Additions and Revisions to the Agenda portion of the meeting - but, as the motion would likely be interpreted narrowly, might not allow members of the Senate to have details on a resolution before a vote to consider is taken, likely eliminating all but the most extraordinary chance of a bill being successfully taken from committee. Notably, the US Congress has a similar rule to take from committee, only requiring a simple majority - a feat even they rarely achieve.

[edit] Demographics

[edit] 2007-2008

Not yet compiled

[edit] 2006-2007

Note: These are estimations only.

There are a total of 57 senators on Student Senate (including the Executive Board):

  • 38 (67%) are male (44% of campus).
  • 19 (33%) are female (56% of campus).
  • 32 (56%) are Greek-affiliated (~35% of campus)
  • 23 (40%, 61% of total males) are Greek-affiliated males
  • 9 (16%, 47% of total females) are Greek-affiliated females
  • 1 (2%) is an international student (7% of campus)
  • 10 (18%) are students of color (15% of campus)
  • 13 (23%) are Class of 2007
  • 14 (25%) are Class of 2008
  • 14 (25%) are Class of 2009
  • 16 (28%) are Class of 2010

Of the Executive Board:

[edit] Greek representation

Of all Senate:

Of the Executive Board:

[edit] See also

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