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Student Senate postpones vote until Sunday

Maureen Reynolds | Thursday, October 9, 2003

The Student Senate began debate Wednesday on a resolution which will, if passed, begin a series of changes that could eventually change the face of Student Government.

Student Body President Pat Hallahan presented the resolution to the senators. The resolution called for three changes – first that the power of budget approval be given to the Executive Cabinet, second that three senators be appointed to serve on the Executive Cabinet and the Student Body Vice President be given voting membership on the committee and finally that the power to amend the Student Union Constitution.

Hallahan said that the reasoning behind these changes came from the concerns expressed regarding the current inefficiencies of Student Government.

“A lot of the concerns we heard were that Student Government is inefficient in many ways … there is certainly room for improvement,” Hallahan said.

He said that tentative long-term plans to improve efficiency include converting the Executive Cabinet into a new committee entitled the Council of Representatives, which would seat members from each committee in Student Government.

Student Government would then be grouped into four divisions: policy, which would include the Office of the President and the Student Senate; programming, which would include the Student Union Board, the Club Coordination Council and the Hall Presidents’ Council; the Financial Management Board; and finally, the Judicial Council. The Financial Management Board and the Judicial Council would be independent of the other two divisions to ensure their impartiality.

“The idea for this is to find a way to collaborate better and be more efficient,” Hallahan said. “What we want to do is work out a situation in which all policy groups come together and work more efficiently, and all the programming groups come together and work more efficiently.”

Currently, the Executive Cabinet represents all upper-level student government committees, except for the Senate.

“We need to find a group that brings all student groups together,” Hallahan said. “We’ve gone too long on separate paths.”

Hallahan asked the Senate to pass the resolution Wednesday so he could report their progress on the issue to the Board of Trustees in his report to them next Thursday. His report will center on the administration’s interaction, particularly the Campus Life Council, with the Student Government and the student body.

Hallahan said he believes that if he can show the board that Student Government is making strides to become more efficient, then the board will be more inclined to make strides to improve communication with Student Government.

But senators felt this issue was too important to debate and vote on in one meeting, and some were concerned that the Senate would give up too much power by passing all three sections of this resolution. They decided, therefore, to table the discussion until their next official meeting.

Hallahan protested their decision, saying that these changes are not about the power of one group relative to another.

“This isn’t about a single person, a single commission or a single group,” he said. “This is about the Student Union as a whole.”

In order to reach a conclusion on this resolution before Hallahan’s Board of Trustees report, senators decided to hold an additional official meeting on Sunday. They will then continue debate on the content of the resolution before voting on it.

Suggestions regarding content of the resolution included removing the clause that the Executive Cabinet be given the authority to approve the budget in order to debate that as a separate issue. Also suggested was changing the second clause to state that four senators be appointed to the Executive Cabinet, ensuring equal representation of male and female dorms.