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Senate approves COR merger resolution

Mel Flanagan | Wednesday, November 30, 2011

After much debate, Student Senate passed a resolution combining Senate with the Council of Representatives (COR) at its meeting Wednesday.

In his State of the Union address prior to the vote, student body president Pat McCormick said the resolution further enables the Student Union to act upon the will of the student body.

“The time has come for us to think of ourselves no longer as independent organizations, but as a united student union,” he said. “All the rest of our goals for this year are dependent on this goal.”

The resolution dissolves COR and adds six new voting members to Senate — the four class presidents, the Club Coordination Council president and the off-campus president.

Originally, the resolution proposed adding the Student Union Board (SUB) manager and Student Union treasurer as voting members as well.

However, many senators pointed out that these positions are not voted upon by the student body, as the rest of the positions in Senate are.

“I’m against non-elected representatives having voting rights,” Fisher senator Colin Geils said. “I don’t feel they properly represent the student body.”

SUB manager Joe Caparros said that while policy changes made in Senate have not affected SUB a great deal in recent years, it is possible they could in the future.

“I do represent the interests of the Student Union Board but I also represent the interests of everyone,” he said. “The risk is that if policy does affect SUB more than it has in the past there is a danger for SUB to not have a say in any of that.”

Student Union treasurer Eric Biro expressed concern that non-voting members of Senate did not have the “right of agenda,” the ability to bring resolutions before Senate.

“I think there’s something to be said for the person who knows the most about the Student Union fiscal policy to lose that right of agenda,” he said.

The senators voted to amend the resolution, changing the SUB manager and Student Union treasurer to non-voting members while also granting these members the right of agenda.

The most hotly contested issue was the question of whether to add one of the co-chairs of Hall President’s Council (HPC) as a voting member.

Pasquerilla East senator Katie Rose said members of her dorm had raised concern over an HPC co-chair being able to vote in Senate.

“They already have a lot of power,” she said. “If we’re trying to increase representation of the Student Union, well the residence halls are already represented by us.”

HPC co-chair Jay Mathes said he and fellow co-chair Billy Wardlaw would be able to provide the perspective of the halls as an aggregate force, rather than a particular one as the senators do.

“We’re not divided by dorm, grade or gender and we’re one of the very few groups here on campus that are looking out for the benefits of all students,” he said. “The perspectives we have and the talks we have with presidents on a day-to-day basis add different conclusions. It’s a perspective we really need to take care of.”

McCormick said an HPC co-chair would also offer the benefit of a representative with greater experience in student government.

In the past, senators were always seniors. Now, almost all senators are sophomores or juniors, McCormick said.

“It creates a body that tends to be younger and has this as their initial or second point of entry into student government,” he said. “You might have this conclusion that the HPC co-chair might exert undue influence on the other senators, but on the other hand, that might not be a bad thing either.”

The co-chair would contribute a more seasoned opinion from the hall perspective than a sophomore senator would be able to, McCormick said.

Despite these arguments, senators voted to amend the resolution to add an HPC co-chair as a non-voting member of Senate.

The resolution also reallocates the previous responsibilities of COR. Oversight Committee chair Ben Noe said the COR Collaboration Fund, which allocates funds to organizations that are working together on an event, will now be managed by the Financial Management Board (FMB).

“We felt this fund would best be moved to FMB and chaired by the Student Union treasurer with representatives from every organization,” he said. “Now the fund will be managed by an actual financial body rather than representatives.”

A special committee of former COR members will now be chosen to approve the Student Union budget, also previously managed by COR.

Further, the resolution changes the names of several groups in order to better reflect their functions: the Executive Policy Board to the Executive Cabinet, committees and committee chairs to departments and directors and Oversight to Internal Affairs.

The resolution was the result of months of effort by Noe, his committee and the subcommittee on constitutional reform.

“I really think this resolution will help us build a student government that is truly indicative of a student union in that the leaders of all the organizations will come together in one meeting,” Noe said. “And they will all have some say and some vote on what is being said and done in terms of policy.”