Sam Margolin, Staff Writer
On Friday, Feb. 2, USM’s 46 Student Senate met to discuss various financial and organizational issues as well as to try to regain strength after losing five members over the break. The loss included Senate Chairperson, Muna Adan, as well as Kyle Brundidge, Josh Blake, Aaron Pierce, and Zach Tidd. The Senate was left with only six members with Trevor Hustus replacing Adan as Senate Chair.
The meeting began with the discussion of how the recruitment of new Senators was imperative to securing a diverse and equitable Senate. The desperate lack of new members lead the Senate to cut back their meetings from weekly to monthly and have seen little improvement from the tactic.
Organization of the existing members had to be changed in order to fill in the higher ranks of the Senate. This restructuring helps free up the lower level positions in order to begin the process of interviewing, choosing and filling each of the empty slots. The Senate named Shaman Kirkland as the new Vice Chair, Christopher Wagner as the new Clerk of the Senate and Anthony Emerson as the new Student Affairs Chair.
After internal restructuring was complete the Senate then interviewed James Phillips, a freshman and Political Science Major, for a new Senator position. When asked why he wanted to join the Senate, Phillips said, “becoming a Senator could help me get more involved.” The Senate noted that his lack of experience and circle of influence wasn’t ideal but that freshman hold a key role in letting the Senate know the needs of new students. After deliberation, Phillips was accepted into the Student Senate.
Afterwards the Senate dealt with financial requests and issues. The first was the approval of $440 to the Circle K Organization for four students to attend a district convention conference taking place in Portsmouth, NH. Circle K is trying to find new service projects and needs the conference to explore new options. The motion was passed unanimously.
The approval for $5000 to go to the Student Performing Artists (SPA) was before the Senate next after it had already passed through the Board of Student Organization (BSO). USM’s policy states that any amount of $5000 or more needs to be approved by both the Senate and the BSO. The money will provide over 20 theater students travel and attendance to a weekend long auditioning workshop. An experience the representative for the SPA says that they can’t find at USM. The motion was passed but brought up another more major issue.
The duties of the BSO is similar to the Student Senate in that student organizations request funds for trips, events, equipment and other expenses through them. The problem is the BSO runs out of funds almost every year. The BSO is requesting a loan of $15,716.86 from the Student Senate while they wait on a check from another source, since the BSO’s balance are already in the negatives. The funds will go directly to the 170 plus students that are working on various projects that have been approved by the BSO. The consensus of the Senate was that the BSO is doing a great job and the negative account balance in no way reflects poor leadership or execution of their power. The fact is that the BSO raises a lot of money for different organizations and their job is to give it away.
Next was the approval of new and returning student organizations and their constitutions. Reinstatements of the Student Nurses Association’s Constitution as well as approval for the USM Navigators Constitution and the Foodies for Social Justice Constitution were all approved.
The representative from Foodies for Social Justice was Mary Moran, a graduate student at USM. Moran outlined that the organization was only six to twelve members but had been only meeting since Sept. of last year.
When asked what the organization’s goals were Moran said, “we would like to engage in events like those held by Universities Fighting World Hunger and different policy forums about food studies.” The organization consists mostly of Food Studies students, a new minor program started last Fall offered to undergraduates.
The Senate then asked if there were any other senatorial candidates that would like to be interviewed and considered for the various open positions. Four additional students volunteered to be interviewed.
The first was Mellisa Shepherd, a freshman psychology major. Shepherd was interviewed for the secretary position. Vice Chair Kirkland asked about her prior experience in student government if any. Shepherd said, “I have always been involved in student community, I am a member of the Circle K student group, the Maine Eco Reps and was a member of student council in my high school.
Zach Marseglia was next, a first-year Pre-law political science major. When asked about his government experience Marseglia noted that he was his high school’s student class president in his senior year.
“I liked it in my high school and would love to continue the experience here in college,” Marseglia said. The Senate pointed out that the position itself would not get you involved with the student body and that a real effort must be made at a personal level to widen one’s circle of influence.
Next was Katelyn Rice, a photographer with the Free Press and a commuter student. Rice outlined that Portland campus lacks adequate health services and the Senate itself lacks a female voice. The Senate agreed that a female presence was necessary in order to maintain a diverse group of ideologies and perspectives.
The final candidate was Derick Klecman, a member of the Gorham Campus Activity Board. Klecman highlighted that he has had a chance to see the Senate work for the last few years and thinks he could improve its interorganizational communication. The Senate brought up the issue that Klecman might be spread a little to thin with all his involvement with other student organization.
The meeting ended with a discussion around the new contract with METRO transportation services USM entered into, to begin in the Fall semester of the 2018-2019 administrative year. The importance of the new contract was outlined. The new contract with METRO provides cheaper, more spacious, and newer buses, and unlike the old Custom Coach buses, the new service will run seven days a week and with an extended range to towns such as Brunswick.
The issues of lateness and seat availability will be eliminated and METRO will provide free services to students, faculty and staff to all its locations with a UMS identification card. The Student Senate enthusiastically supports the partnership and approved the resolution.
The next Student Senate meeting will be held on Feb. 23, in 166 Upton Hastings in Gorham at 1 p.m.