By: Jess Ward, News Editor
The Senate meeting this week, on Oct. 13, was held in Gorham, to discuss various Senate members’ projects on campus. The meeting was led by Muna Adan, President of the Senate, and covered topics ranging from internet speed on campus to parking accessibility.
As of now, Aaron Pierce, the Student Affairs Chair, is working towards introducing a printer station in Payson Smith, to offer students more convenient options in where they print. A printer was purchased by the Senate three years ago, but has not been used or made available. The cost of maintenance would fall on the Senate’s shoulders, as well as possibly acquiring a computer to have at the station. Senator Kyle Brundige is also working on a free printing initiative for students, so that the costly burden of printing papers and assignments would be alleviated.
Additionally, there have been several complaints from students about the internet quality on campus. Treasurer Jeffrey Ahlquist is in the beginning stages of solving these problems. However, the cost for a new or improved internet service on campus could be over $300,000, which reaches far past the university’s budget. There is potential for a grant, likely from the state government, but as of Friday’s meeting there are no senators willing to go through the writing process to request a grant, so it is uncertain as to how they plan to move forward.
The Senate’s Clerk, Joshua Blake, is working towards improving the food situation with Sodexo, in the hopes of offering students more of a voice in deciding their food options, as well as not requiring on-campus students to pay for a meal plan. Financially, a meal costs $8.99 without a meal plan, but with the meal plan it averages out to $10.99 a meal. Blake recognizes that this is not fair to students who have no choice but to pay for the meal plan, and is hoping to either work with Sodexo to lower prices or make meal plans optional.
There was also discussion around putting ballot boxes in the Gorham cafeteria, to give students voting options concerning the food that is available each week. Last year’s attempt to improve Sodexo’s quality was met with disappointment from many students, so Blake’s new approach will hopefully get to the root of these issues rather than resolving them on a surface level.
Senator Chase Hewitt is leading an initiative regarding parking and transportation for students, including working with the university to either make the parking garage inaccessible to non-students and faculty, or charging a fee for non-students to use the garage. This would make more parking spots available to students, which has been a concern this semester. Currently the garage is a public space available to anyone, but Hewitt stated that potentially reintroducing the key card system, which required a student ID to access the garage, would make it a more student-centered facility.
The Senate is also in the process of organizing a “Meet your Senators” event, which will likely be held in the Gorham cafeteria or the Portland Woodbury Campus Center. This was decided in the hopes of encouraging the student body to be more involved in the Senate’s projects and functions, as well as answer some questions students may have about the purpose of the Senate and both the past and future decisions made.
It is clear that this year’s Senate has a lot of ideas on how to improve campus life for students, but it remains to be seen whether these ideas will result in actual change or merely float around the Senate until they are forgotten. While many of these projects are in their early stages, there are a plethora of obstacles to overcome for each of them. Hopefully USM’s Senate will not only attempt to enact change, but will prevail in supporting the needs of its student body.
Students are also welcome and encouraged to attend Senate meetings, the next of which is on Oct. 27 in Payson Smith 1. Questions or comments for the Senate can be submitted to [email protected].