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Senate nominates co-director, discusses constitutional changes

| Thursday, January 25, 2018

The student senate confirmed senior Molly Knapp as the co-director of the department of social concerns at a meeting Wednesday.

The senate confirmed Knapp, a commissioner in the department during the fall semester, with zero oppositions and zero abstentions.

Senior and student body president Becca Blais said she nominated Knapp to join the current director, senior Austin Matheny, due to the shifting focus and size of the department.

The department of social concerns is split into two groups to focus on separate topics: global affairs and sustainability. Each group meets separately, and Blais said Knapp has been leading the committee on global affairs with great success, while Matheny has been leading the group on sustainability.

“It was getting a little complicated,” Blais said of the decision to make Knapp a co-director. “Both sides of the department still have a lot of work to do in the last two months in terms of massive programming and policy initiatives.”

Because of the broad scope of the department of social concerns, having two directors will allow the groups to work independently and might allow future senates to split the department into two, Blais said.

“As co-director, Molly will have greater autonomy in leading her department committee,” she said. “The department as one cohesive body will have a greater chance at tackling all of the remaining platform and other items.”

Knapp previously served as an NDVotes dorm representative in Lewis Hall, vice president for the class of 2018’s Sophomore Class Council and a member of the class of 2018’s Freshman Class Council. She is also a student worker at both the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and the International Summer Service Learning Program (ISSLP).

“I have full confidence that Molly and Austin will serve as an incredible team, and that she will fit perfectly within the executive cabinet for the remainder of our term,” Blais said.

Blais read a letter from Matheny in which he also expressed his endorsement of Knapp to be his co-director.

“Within her role, Molly has continuously demonstrated passion for the work that she does and poise in the face of adversity,” Matheny said in the letter.

Last semester, Knapp’s team on the global affairs committee organized the events to raise awareness about the Rohingya refugee crisis, and Matheny said the work would have been impossible without Knapp.

“As a member of the executive cabinet and of student government as a whole, I have been lucky enough to work alongside some of the most passionate … people that this prestigious university has to offer,” Matheny said. “I can say without hestitation that Molly Knapp is one of those people.”

Following Knapp’s confirmation, student union parliamentarian and junior Colin Brankin presented proposed constitutional changes to the student senate.

The changes reorganize and clarify various articles in the constitution, including instructing future student senates on how to vote on new constitutions, explicitly requiring all nine student union organizations to submit bylaws to the ethics committee and clarifying the quorum — the minimum number of voters to make a proceeding valid — to be two-thirds in any student government vote.

“There are essentially zero content changes, with the exception of one point of clarification,” Brankin said. “Everything is just reorganizing it for the sake of reading it and so it flows well together.”

The changes reiterate that the student union secretary must post the minutes, agenda and resolutions of each meeting on the website. Another edit clarifies that, given certain offenses, any position holder in the student union can be impeached.

Brankin also noted the upcoming student senate elections and brought the senators’ attention to the addition of a “For Prospective Senators” tab on the student government website.

The site includes information about who can be a senator, what senate does and the meaning of senatorial committees. The website also has links to the constitution, the Judicial Council website and embeds the Parliamentary Procedure and Senate Rules Guidebook.

Brankin and judicial council president and senior Matt Ross will be holding a prospective senator information session Feb. 13 to provide interested students with more information about senate. The session will be held at 7 p.m. in the Montgomery Auditorium of the LaFortune Student Center.

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About Mary Bernard

Mary Bernard is a senior with a major in Anthropology and a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and is the Social Media Editor for The Observer, managing and overseeing all things audience engagement.

Contact Mary