Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

‘It’s never been this bad’: Student Senate attendance issue worsens

Sam Hill

Posted on September 22, 2014 in News
By Sam Hill

Filling seats at Student Senate meetings is still an issue for the organization. At last week’s meeting, four senators were absent, two defaulted and were kicked off the senate for attendance issues and the senate initially was unable to make quorum until one senator arrived late.

On Friday, the senate voted to suspend an article in their constitution requiring senate applicants to gather 100 supporting signatures from the student body before being appointed in order to appoint two new senators.

Tom Bahun, a senior commuter student and treasurer of the board of student organizations, and David Sanok, a junior communication and media studies major, were both appointed to the senate after a public interview process.

“I motioned to suspend it [the rule] for this meeting only, however, if we continue to get genuinely interested students and the signature process is getting in the way, we could do so again,” said Joshua Tharpe, the senate parliamentarian.

Both of the newly appointed senators had been at senate meetings before, Bahun as a BSO member and Sanok purely out of interest in the organization. Bahun was able to acquire 51 signatures from the student body, while Sanok had not collected any.

Tharpe explained that the rule was originally created to combat new senators being appointed “left and right” while the senate wasn’t sure they were dedicated to the position.

“Last year we had some senators leave within weeks of their appointment,” said Tharpe.

“We need senators who are qualified, of course, but we do need to fill seats to be a working senate,” said Joshua Dodge, the senate chair, in an interview the following day. “In my four years on the senate, it’s never been this bad.”

Both of the new senators cited university financial troubles and administrative handling of the budget deficit as reasons they wanted to become involved with the senate.

The senate discussed the candidates and the signature process while they were out of the room and considered asking Sanok to at least attempt to gather signature before appointing him, but it was decided to appoint him based solely on his interest in the position.

The senate discussed altering the rule as well. Some senators suggested lowering the number of signatures applicants would have to gather or getting rid of the signature problem altogether.

Judson Cease, the vice chair of the senate, suggested using the signature gathering process as a gauge to measure an applicant’s interest and commitment to senate procedures, but not require it.

“We can make the signatures just a factor in our decision to appoint instead of a requirement,” said Cease.

“If people are making a legitimate effort to go out and get signatures, express genuine interest, but come in and say ‘hey, I only got 62 [signatures], I’m more than comfortable making that proposal at future meetings as well,” said Tharpe.

The senate decided that changing the application process would require more discussion than they were able to take part in at the meeting, which was nearing two-hours long, and added it under the ‘concerns’ section of their next meeting.

Dodge said the senate agreed that the issue needed another week for discussion before they make any alterations to the procedure.

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