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Exec Cab, Senators make progress on resolution

Meghanne Downes | Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Members of the Executive Cabinet and Student Senate made progress toward reaching a compromise regarding a proposal to create a collaborative body composed of all seven branches of student government that would consolidate and redirect power within the student government infrastructure.

Sunday, the Student Senate voted 14-9 in favor of the resolution, introduced by Student body president Pat Hallahan, but the resolution failed because two-thirds were needed for passage. Hallahan invited senators to Monday’s Executive Cabinet meeting with the hope that Executive Cabinet could explain its desire to create this body and address Senate concerns.

The original proposal called for a Council of Representatives to be empowered with deliberating issues related to the Collaboration Fund and Constitution of the Student Union – powers currently held by the Student Senate. The Council, which intends to be an expanded form of the current Executive Cabinet, would consist of the vice president, four class presidents, four senators, the Hall President’s Council chair, the Student Union Board manager, the Club Coordination Council president, the Student Union Treasurer, the Judicial Council President, the off-campus president and the chief of staff for the Office of the Student Body President.

Hallahan will present a report to the University’s Board of Trustees Thursday that addresses multiple issues that student government is facing and the outcome of Sunday’s meeting did not affect his overall report.

Sarah Keefer, Hall President’s Council Chair and Executive Cabinet member, said there was a need to have a body that represents every branch of student government in order to discuss and approve issues, including those related to the budget and constitution, instead of the Student Senate approving issues related to and having a check on bodies other than itself.

Seth O’Donnell, Club Coordination Council president and Executive Cabinet member, said, “We want to synthesize all the bylaws into one source.”

Senators raised concern that this would detract from the Senate’s duties and said that the Student Senate typically approves all resolutions from other student government bodies.

Tai Romero, the Student Union Board programmer and an Executive Cabinet member, said the changes would be beneficial for the effectiveness of student government and would not detract from the Student Senate’s power. She pointed out that most of their time is spent researching issues and that they would have four votes on the Council.

Since Hallahan introduced the resolution before the Senate Wednesday, several senators said they were in favor of a consolidated body but were concerned that the Executive Cabinet did not consult them when they decided to redistribute power within the Student Government and create the Council. Others questioned why there was an urgent need to pass this resolution.

Hallahan said senators were given the opportunity to participate on the three committees – constitution, budget and collaboration – that worked together to compose the resolution. He said these senators were informed at a Student Senate meeting and individually when Executive Cabinet first began discussing the topic in September.

Lewis senator Claire Berezowitz, who is the chair of the Senate’s oversight committee, said following the Executive Cabinet meeting, “I was never asked by Pat. I approached Jeremy [Lao, student union vice president] because the [budget] was something oversight was working on, and he said there was already a committee in Executive Cabinet working on it.”

She said Lao told her he would put her on the e-mail list for the committee. However, the one e-mail she did receive regarding an upcoming meeting gave tentative meeting details that were never later confirmed.

The meeting adjourned with several senators acknowledging that many of their concerns had been addressed and Hallahan seemed hopeful that his resolution, in a revised format, would be discussed at Wednesday’s Senate meeting.