The Committee on Military, Veteran, and Public Safety Affairs; a committee created by Senator Jameson Goulding has officially passed after it was brought to the Student Senate over a month ago. Although it was passed with a ⅔ majority vote, the steps in order for the committee to be an official part of the senate was nothing short of a complicatedly worthwhile journey.
Originally brought to the senate table on October 17th, this “collaborated committee” was met with praise and critiques on both the details the committee’s overview contained and the sentiment behind it being a bridge of communication between first responders and the USM student body. It was decided to be tabled and voted on at the next meeting. The October 31st meeting was similar to the previous meeting except for two things: one being the possibility of the committee being placed under different points within SGA’s supervision; the other being that many of the individuals in that meeting openly expressed their personal stories pertaining to their experiences with police, and specifically USM’s first responders and the emotions they’ve had to carry because of it. After having a long and healthy dialogue between Senator Goulding and the rest of the student senate, it was decided to table the proposal once again to be voted on at the next meeting. In the two week span of that meeting and the next one, and for the most part since the October 17th meeting, Senator Goulding sent out emails and a questionnaire to the Student Senate to help bring transparency, and a relationship between himself and the senate to help this committee truly be a collaborative effort. The proposal was tabled again for a third time due to Senator Goulding’s excused absence at the November 14th meeting. At the November 28th meeting the proposal was officially put to a vote, with ten “yes” votes and four abstains, the
proposal didn’t pass, but questions quickly rose about what should be considered in the voting process.
First, the senate questioned their own constitution when it comes to a majority vote, whether it should be a majority of all the sitting senators (for which there is currently 20 sitting senators out of a possible 21) or it should be a majority of the quorum that is present at the meeting either in person or over Zoom. After much discussion, a Roberts Rule was put forth by Senator Tarwick to put in place a vote over whether something passes with majority of the sitting senate or of the quorum, then a second vote of Senator Goulding’s proposal would take place after. Robert’s Rule of Order is a parliamentary procedure to help facilitate discussions and group decision-making. The section in Robert’s Rule that was implemented was Article VIII Vote, specifically “motions requiring more than a majority vote.” Senator Tarwick’s reasoning for wanting the quorum decided and not the whole sitting senate was that she has seen the same amount of senators show up to these meetings and have gone forward voting on items without concern of the senators that never show up. She stressed how this isn’t drawn from her personal opinions on the proposal but how it isn’t “fair for any proposal” to be decided with the consideration of the missing senators who don’t show up whether in person or over zoom when there have been things passed by a close margin before when it was just the quorum. Other senators in the room agreed with one senator even questioning that if this is the concrete voting procedure that happens, does it mean that past proposals and constitutional articles that either passed or didn’t pass should be re-voted. One senator argued that it should be ⅔ of the whole student senate roster because it’s important to “have everyone’s voice heard” and that “their voice still matters,” arguing how a senator could be out from something outside of their own control and that shouldn’t hinder their influence and voice on important issues. It was also
mentioned by SGAAdvisor David Lewis that when the constitution was edited three years ago, “they did not do a good job at all” with nailing down a solid structure on voting procedures. With this vote coming about from Senator Tarwick’s Robert’s Rule, it will set a precedent on the future of student senate meetings and method in how voting is conducted. The time came to put this to a vote and with 14 “yes,” one “no,” and one abstain, the motion passed that the majority of the quorum will be the one who decides and will be put into the constitution as such.
With that now decided, the student senate returned to Goulding’s proposal and with the new voting procedure, the proposal passed with exactly a ⅔ majority of the quorum voting yes. The committee will now be a part of SGA, and even though Senator Goulding will be leaving USM at the end of this fall semester, he does hope that the committee will move forward in helping build a much needed bridge between USM’s first responders and the USM students.
During the November 14th Student Senate meeting, Robbie Faucher, President of the Student Theater Artists Group (STAG) came to the meeting to have the senate vote on a new constitution, not because they are a new group, but because their old constitution no longer exists. Going under the assumption that STAG was an “active” club under the Board of Student Organizations (BSO), they wanted to change their name from Performers At Work (PAW) to what is now STAG, and “in an effort to do everything by the book,” they went around trying to find a current copy of their constitution, only to discover that nobody had a copy on file even though they have a budget and bank account under their name. Because of this, STAG, with events coming up that they had been planning all summer, has now found themselves in an “unpleasant limbo space because our predecessors blew it.” The student senate then decided to vote on the new constitution of STAG which was passed with the only two abstained votes.
In an interview with Robbie Faucher, he stated that when it was discovered that a new constitution needed to be written, it might have taken his own time away from dealing with other club business, it did not hinder the production as a whole from the new performances the club is producing, and that a majority of the time was spent with Faucher writing proposals of the constitution, and later pitching it to the members of the club in order for a common agreement and fairness to play a factor within its details. Being involved in local politics, Faucher worked in a group for Bernie Sanders’ 2020 Presidential campaign, he has been on the local democratic committee for Buxton-Hollis for the past two years, and was recently running as a candidate for the state legislature. With all of this experience he felt confident enough while writing STAG’s constitution for it to be written correctly from a legal and semantics standpoint, which showed when the constitution was unanimously approved within the club and was again approved by the student senate; the only two abstaining votes coming from one who is the club’s treasurer and another from someone who wasn’t paying attention at the time of the vote.
Part of this confusion in terms of the lost constitution could be due to the fact that this club has gone through three name changes since 2018, and was also a part of USM’s art department up until the start of this semester. This created a problem, but not as big of a problem as it could’ve been. The problem being that they had to create a constitution from scratch, a positive being that they still had a bank account on record under the BSO, which goes back to the active and inactive club situation the BSO has been working to figure out this semester.
It has been reported before that, some inactive clubs have been holding money in their personal accounts, some upwards of $1,200, with no possible way of retrieving that money in order to redistribute it to the clubs that need it which in turn is holding back from both active clubs and the BSO in general, and although STAG would’ve been considered an inactive club
due to their previous ties under USM’s art department, having money taken out of their accounts would’ve been a genuine restriction to them wanting to be “an official player on the USM BSO stage, but can’t because they don’t know what they need to be filling out, who they need to talk to, what paperwork they need to worry about.”
The reason why STAG was able to have a strong start out of the gates, according to Robbie Faucher, was because they had a fairly sizeable amount of money in the student theater bank account left over when they came into BSO this semester, but if the BSO’s budget amendment had gone forward before this, “at least half of it would’ve been gone and possibly more and that would’ve been a real impediment to getting this club started up again,” and without that money in their bank accounts, not only would it be a difficult process for STAG to become an active club again, it would put their current theater productions into jeopardy. Even though Faucher told me he understands the BSO’s logic and motivations behind taking money from inactive clubs and even “to a lesser degree” taking money away from active clubs that do not use all of their given funds, he reiterated that “it would’ve been a real impediment to our ability to put ourselves back in a position of stability.” He did state that he will be forever grateful of the time the BSO committee generously took in their assistance, and Faucher pointed out that this whole thing wouldn’t have worked without the BSO committee’s due diligence and how much they care about the matter as STAG gets ready for their performance on December 8th and 9th.
This all led to the latest student senate meeting on November 28th when BSO’s President and Vice President came in to discuss, and put to vote articles within their constitution that was voted on and turned down due to some wording issues at the October 17th Student Senate meeting and new articles up for vote for the first time. It is important to note that each of these
separate articles were voted on and passed in BSO’s general meeting, which can total to around thirty people taking part in the vote, before they were brought to the student senate. First was Section Three – Membership and Quorum. This deals with how many students can be at a meeting before any business is carried out, and also about restricting students from changing their clubs names more than once in a two year period. This was passed with only one abstained vote.
Second was Section Four – Officers and Responsibilities, Article B: Qualifications of Officers. This deals with people who actually attend BSO meetings can be a part of the BSO Executive Board, while also being a part of the gaming club board, for example. To avoid a conflict of interest according to BSO’s constitution: “All forms and proposals relating to that group must be voted on by the general body and not during executive committee meetings as to
avoid a conflict of interest,” with individuals who are on the Executive Committee not being allowed to vote on their own personal clubs general meetings. This was passed at BSO’s meeting unanimously, and was passed at the student senate meeting as well.
Third was Section Four – Officers and Responsibilities, Article C: Duties of the Chair of BSO – specifically part 15i: “general email communication with the BSO advisor and other executive committee members are mandatory as to plan general meeting times and executive committee meetings for the start of the new academic year,” so that “just because it is summer break” that doesn’t mean someone should not be communicating with their respective colleagues and it does not hinder clubs under BSO. This passed by the student senate unanimously.
Fourth was Section Five – Meetings, Part B: Absences; a section that was brought forth at the October 17th meeting, but was turned down due to a typo with the article stating: “No single group may receive more than two excused absences per semester,” instead of, “unexcused
absences per semester.” The BSO’s president stated that this has been, “our policy for forever, it’s just now in writing.” With the typo now fixed, the Student Senate voted to pass this updated article.
The fifth and final section of BSO’s constitution that was brought to the Student Senate was Section Nine – Retrieval of Unused Funds.
Part A discussed the situation of an active club not using their funds, and that 10% of their budget will be returned and redistributed through special projects. It is stated, however, in the BSO’s constitution that a reminder will be sent to those groups who have not used their funds, and that a group will need to submit a formal statement explaining why the funds were not used in order to receive a grace period of one semester which will then go to a vote at BSO’s executive board, and will have to be passed by a ⅔ majority vote. When this was brought to the people within BSO to vote on it was passed, but not unanimously. BSO’s vice president stressed to them that “we don’t want to take their money, we want them to start doing things with their money,” for the student body, and in the long run will help the BSO not turn to the Student Senate for help when student activity fees hit at the start of each semester.
Part B concerned inactive clubs with the constitution stating, “every academic year that an inactive student group does not use their funds, 25% of their overall budget will be returned to the BSO at large budget to be redistributed for other student groups either through special projects or G.O.B.” It also mentioned to exceptions to clubs considered “inactive,” and what steps they need to show in order for their club to not have their money taken away from them, examples being, communication “either by email or through a meeting with the BSO advisor to get instructions on how to become active”, “communicating with a member of the BSO Executive Board Committee, in which case it is the responsibility of the BSO Executive Board
Committee member to help the student get in contact with the BSO advisor and make sure that the group does not lose funds for an additional semester grace period”, and “has communicated with the BSO advisor and is waiting for their constitution to be approved by the Parliamentarian.”
Part C was again about inactive groups, stating “every three academic years that an inactive group remains inactive with no students interested in activating the group, all accounts will be closed, and the remaining balance will be returned to the BSO at large budget to be redistributed for other student groups.” Very similar to what was covered in Part B, if an inactive group does want to become active again, they must have an active line of communication with the BSO in order to receive a grace period of one semester and to receive help in coordinating plans to become active again.
Each of these were then passed by the senate unanimously, except for one abstaining vote, each due to that specific senator being on the board of various clubs under BSO. When asked about STAG’s specific situation dealing with their new constitution, the BSO is now actively trying to correct the wrongs of past BSO leaders. First by “keeping track of everything,” and having each club send in their personal and constitution so that if a group becomes inactive, the BSO still has their constitution on file and will never be deleted so that if something similar to STAG arises, that particular situation won’t become something of a recurrence.
Other notable items from the two meetings was Senator’s Burt and Seile nominating themselves for the Board of Trustees Representative position. This is just to get an interview
with USM’s board, and the final decision of who gets the position will be decided before January of 2023 when the term begins.
The Sports Club Council led by Senator Seile brought forth their clubs constitution to the student senate to have particular articles voted on. The one article that stood out was Section 7 Hazing, Misconduct, and Discipline Process, specifically Part A. The club wanted to institute a punishment for bystanders by stating, “if a team member had knowledge of hazing activities and failed to address it to the Coordinator of Recreation or the Club Sports Council Board, the complicit individual will be considered for misconduct.” This was met with mixed reviews from the student senate, who agreed with the notion that bystanders and people with knowledge of disrespectful behavior should come forward, it could create fear that if someone who wasn’t in the wrong doesn’t come forward, they are in just as much trouble as an individual who did the harmful act. This article was then voted down by the senate and asked Senator Seile to rethink and rewrite the article.
Senator Hussien, head of the Lewiston-Auburn Committee, talked about wanting to reappropriate “some of the seats in the Senate to reflect our online community” and to accurately reflect the senate to represent all three USM campuses and online students, and since the Lewiston-Auburn campus used to have their own student government, it could something considered at future senate meetings.
The next Student Senate meeting will take place on the night of Monday, December 11th and will be the last Student Senate meeting of the fall semester.