Student Senate Vice President Aimee Bosman announced the recommendations of an Ad Hoc Committee this past Monday evening — addressing issues and changes surrounding student elections of class senators and executive committee members. Fifteen different schools were consulted, and proposed amendments will be brought before the Senate body to be voted on — with the target being to ratify new constitution amendments before the next set of elections in March.
“We want to make sure that we don’t just have senators, but we have senators who want to be here and make changes,” said Vice President Bosman.
The committee recognized problems with the current election process: low voter turnout, minimal information available about each candidate and low interest in running to be a class senator.
Low voter turnout was deemed a result of the polls not being easily accessible from CNAV. A Google form is the proposed solution where students can simply click a link, login using their student ID and access the polls. Bosman also mentioned having the vote on weekdays instead of weekends.
Bosman spoke about the future role of clubs in Student Senate and how they will have some form of voting power after the new amendments are passed. This action would be a part of the larger restructuring of Senate.
This restructuring would involve the same executive council of President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Parliamentarian and Clubs Liaison. As opposed to the current seven senators who represent each class, four senators would be elected, alongside senators at large, separate from the top four students elected for each class. In addition, there will no longer be senators for first-years based upon residence hall.
Club leaders would emerge from this proposed structure. The proposal includes seven affinity leaders directing clubs associated with academics, politics, religion, service, social, arts & music and culture — an idea inherited heavily from other colleges.
“Senators and club affinity leaders both have the same voting rights, but there are more senators than affinity group leaders, so there is no overpowering the number of senators,” said Vice President Bosman.
The executive committee would not have a vote.
Senators and executive committee candidates will no longer be asked to write a cover letter to run, but they will need to write an individual 250-word piece of intent their desire to hold a position. They still will need a petition — 50 signatures for prospective senators and 100 signatures for prospective executive members. There will be a general campaign early on, so students know their options in future elections. There will also be a Q&A session at one of the senate meetings for those running for executive positions. Voting booths will take place at CUB and Bullet Hole tables with laptops including easy access to vote.
All of these proposals came out of the Ad Hoc Committee, and the next step is the recommendation being discussed further in Policy Committee, led by Parliamentarian Pat McKenna. The discussion will lead to eventual new language for the Student Senate constitution. Policy Committee meetings happen every Thursday at 5:15 p.m. in Plank basement.
McKenna also confirmed that Student Senate will be the first to vote on the working draft of the Freedom of Expression philosophy to be discussed during this Thursday’s Town Hall. This Student Senate vote will take place sometime after February 15, Senate President Luke Frigon said.
Around 55% of the annual budget has been allotted and used — totaling over $50,000.
Meetings were extended to officially go until 8:30 pm every Monday evening. The Activities Fair will be open from 5-7 pm in the CUB Ballroom on Thursday, February 1 — with clubs having to arrive at 4:30 p.m. to register and set up.