Senate examines finances, passes resolutions
Jack Jerit | Thursday, December 12, 2019
Student government vice president Patrick McGuire — who also chairs the student senate at its weekly meetings — has tried to let the senators themselves guide the meetings this year. The more self-guided senate has been prolific in passing resolutions.
“Last year, there were a total [of] 33 resolutions,” McGuire said. “But we’ve already passed 31 this year, and it’s only halfway through the term. That just shows the work the senators are putting in, and I believe at this time last year, there had been about nine to 10 resolutions.”
A large chunk of these resolutions were significant in their effects, McGuire said. Senate has passed resolutions on a wide range of topics this year.
“The senators have done a really good job focusing on big issues too,” McGuire said. “So whether that’s writing resolutions and passing resolutions providing feedback on University decisions, like the residence policies rolled out in the spring, meeting with administrators or even policy changes, like constitutionally requiring GreeNDot for newly enumerated leaders.”
There hasn’t been one particular focus of the senate this year, but a few topics in particular have been discussed in more depth than others. In particular, financial issues over the summer culminated in the cancellation of the Midnight Express and has led to a focus on financial reform and more accountability standards for the student union.
“When the decision was made to cancel the Midnight Express, we realized that the past two student administrations hadn’t budgeted for it which actually caused a $30,000 debt at the end of last term,” McGuire said. “[This] led me and Karen Kennedy, our advisor [to the senate], to think about what are the accountability standards for student government and for student organizations as a whole, and why are we able to kind of go $30,000 into debt and have no consequences?”
The senate met this semester with senior Christine Arcoleo, the student union treasurer, in at least four different meetings to either go over the finances of the student union, how the Financial Management Board works and the best way to go about implementing accountability standards.
“Christine’s presentations on people over- or under-spending their budgets showed us that there’s just as much of a problem with people over-spending as under-spending, which then led to the resolution creating more robust accountability standards,” McGuire said.
Many of the subjects the senate discussed this year have been taken up by other departments in the student union, such as the Midnight Express and issues related to new residential policies.
One other major field the senate worked on this year involved gender relations. The senate passed legislation requiring GreeNDot training for all leaders, and McGuire hopes they will work on reforming the nondiscrimination clause.
In the future, McGuire hopes senators will work more in smaller groups that focus on particular subjects that interest them and their dorm communities. He would also like the senate to provide more feedback on the administration.
“What I would really want for next semester is for individual senators to identify particular areas that they’re passionate about, and work with other senators to make those policy like goals a reality,” McGuire said. “I would love to see continued feedback on things that the administration is doing … and on other campus events or policy changes, but I also think that having the senate provide feedback on things that student government is doing.”
The student senate this year has done a good job fine-tuning a lot of the smaller issues with the Constitution and student union as a whole. They passed two pieces of significant legislation — requiring officials to undergo GreeNDot training and reforming financial accountability. However, the senate has been slow to address ongoing issues such as residential policies and recent protests about parietals and hate speech on campus. After examining these issues, they have instead elected to allow other bodies address these problems. As people will move on from one issue to the next, trying to address issues in a reasonable amount of time is paramount to maintaining institutional momentum.