Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Our opinion: The USM student body deserves a more dedicated senate

Posted on September 22, 2014 in Our Opinion, Perspectives
By USM Free Press

The attendance and involvement issue that has plagued the Student Senate has, hopefully, reached it’s highest points.

At last week’s senate meeting, four senators were absent, the senate was unable to make qurom to begin their meeting and important discussions were pushed to next week for the sake of saving time. Two senators also defaulted and were removed from the senate because they had been absent too often.

Trust us, we know students lead busy lives and sometimes we have to pick and choose what we have time to do. We just don’t think senate meetings are one of those responsibilities to sweep under the rug. Senators cited visiting their family and working to pay the bills as excuses for their absences last week and, while those can be legitimate excuses most days, we feel now isn’t the right time to take a break.

The atmosphere at USM is tense and is only going to get worse. The student body needs the senate to serve as a bridge between themselves, USM’s administration and system-level officials. As servants of the students, now is not the time to take a break or slack-off when it comes to paying attention to what’s happening all around us. Programs, jobs and the quality of education is constantly on the line and the student body needs vocal students to represent them. There are plenty of active students in system-level discussions, but not many that the administration has to attention to.

Last year, the Student Senate did what they could to make the voices of USM’s student body known. They cast a vote of no confidence in former president Theodora Kalikow and her council. They passed a resolution supporting the Metropolitan University plan, but condemning how the administration was approaching the budget issues, the retrenchment of faculty and program eliminations.

Last Friday, Alex Greenlee, the same undergraduate representative that assisted the senate in their decision last year, offered the senate a chance to relay their message and concerns to the board of trustees at this Monday’s meeting, but no serious discussion on the matter took place. No senator asked any questions, gave their opinion on the programs likely to be eliminated or asked for anyone else’s. One senator asked Greenlee to explain which programs were going to be eliminated, which is information that has been in the headlines of the Free Press, Bangor Daily News and Portland Press Herald since March.

Being a member of the senate is a big responsibility, a serious time commitment and a sometimes complicated position to be in. Knowing how to work the constitution, commanding senate meetings, handling a budget and holding office hours are all sizable tasks, but we don’t think they should distract from the basics: be present and connect with the students.

The number one goal of the senate right now should be learning about the financial troubles USM, surveying students about the issues and relaying that information to the administration so student’s have a voice in the future of this university. Oh, and filling senate seats, too. Talking about and planning on doing something isn’t the same as taking a stand and solving problems.

Our Opinion is written by the Free Press editorial board.

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