Senate debates COR merger
Mel Flanagan | Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Student Senate debated the feasibility of streamlining student government by merging with the Council of Representatives (COR) at its meeting Wednesday.
Oversight committee chair Ben Noe said the merger would make student government more effective by consolidating meetings and making the group more representative of the entire student body.
“It would help cut down on the amount of necessary waste that goes into all the student government meetings,” Noe said. “It would also help those involved in COR who may not have a voice in the policy process. It would give them a voice and a vote.”
Student body vice president Brett Rocheleau said the change would eliminate COR and add eight new voting members to Senate — the four class presidents, the off-campus president, the chair of the Student Union Board, the president of the Club Coordination Council and the Student Union treasurer.
These extra voices would improve the dialogue at Student Senate meetings, student body president Pat McCormick said.
“Wouldn’t it be cool to see if we could expand representativeness in the Senate to really get Senate to be more of a deliberative body, to include the class perspectives and other perspectives?” he said.
McCormick said the committee chair updates, which typically occur during the first 20 minutes of Senate, would be eliminated from the meetings in order for the group to focus more on addressing student body issues.
“There is going to be a little bit more clarity at meetings,” he said. “This will really be the time for us to discuss the issues of the day for the student body.”
The fusion would also offer students, especially those living off campus, better representation in the policy branch of student government, McCormick said.
“[Off-campus senator] Helen Costa represents 1500 students, while each other senator represents approximately 300,” McCormick said. “Even though we have the halls covered in Senate, we really don’t have off-campus students covered.”
The additions of the off-campus president and the senior class president would ensure the needs of off-campus students receive greater attention.
Keough senator Andrew Anderson questioned whether it would be fair to give voting powers to some of the suggested additional members, as a number of them are appointed rather than elected.
While officers such as the Student Union treasurer are not elected, McCormick said they could still bring valuable viewpoints to Senate.
“The idea would be that in having them here, they would be able to provide the perspectives of the other important branches of the Student Union,” he said.
Rocheleau said that though representation is a concern, the merger is primarily aimed at improving effectiveness.
“While representation is a question, it isn’t the main focus of the fusion,” he said. “The fusion is trying to be more effective and have better meetings than we currently have in the two separate meetings.”
Walsh senator Elizabeth Owers, who also sits on COR, said the change would remove the great deal of overlap experienced by students who attend more than one meeting per week.
“Anything that’s not discussed at COR, it’s discussed at Senate, then we get those updates at Hall Council too,” she said. “Plus if you’re sitting in three meetings a week, each one might not feel so important. But if you’re down to one, it makes it feel really important.”