By Doug Banks – News Editor
Changes were made to the Student Government Association’s Constitution during both meetings. Topics included stipends, policies to Senator absences, changes to keep their Constitution up to date, and more.
Changing and updating the Constitution and by-laws has been a continual process since the Student Senate meeting on February 10th. These changes have included adding qualifications to the treasurer position, mission statements for financial by-laws, a rule that the Finance Committee cannot approve a request of over $10,000 until the Student Senate has approved the event, ratifying the unspoken conditions and rules already known among the senators, and putting guidelines in place for committees under the Student Government Association (SGA) stating that if one of these committees is not chaired for an entire academic semester it will become inactive until a senator chairs it.
Two stood out during the SGA Constitution portion of the meetings.
The first concerns Senators who miss their own committee meetings and the bi-weekly Senate meetings due to excused or unexcused absences. Although a vote was tabled until the next meeting, a proposed new rule would require senators who are consistently not in attendance at their agreed upon obligations to meet with the Senate who will vote on whether or not the senator can stay in the Student Senate. The decision must pass on a majority (50% +1) vote. The rule would establish that the senator has two excused absences and one unexcused absence before their position in the Senate would come into question. If the senator in question is not able to attend the meeting, a proxy is allowed to take their place. Privacy is of the utmost importance in this situation, with the Senate holding a closed session beforehand. The potential rule states that when the meeting is taking place to decide whether or not the senator will stay in the Senate, fellow senators would not be allowed to ask “deeply personal questions in regards to the Senators absence that could violate laws pursuant to not only their rights under the University, but their federal rights protected by the United States as well.” They can however ask the reasoning behind the senator’s repeated absences.
The second stand-out issue discussed was a proposal sent in from The Free Press Editor-in-Chief Kelly Ledsworth concerning the new stipend rule for groups under SGA. At a previous meeting, the SGA decided to cut the amount of stipends a group could have from eight to four. This change affects groups like The Free Press, USM’s radio station WMPG, and many others. Ledsworth came to the meeting with a proposal that would keep The Free Press’ number of stipends at eight. According to SGA Advisor and Director of Student Engagement & Leadership David Lewis, he attended a meeting with USM Finance specifically about The Free Press and WMPG moving out of SGA and what logistics would be involved in doing so. Lewis stated that the decision to make this move is at “a 90% yes. As of July 1st, WMPG and The Free Press will be under USM, not SGA anymore.”
If this happens, one of the biggest changes would be where the money is coming from. Under the SGA, the money for The Free Press and WMPG’s stipends comes from student activity fees, and under USM the money would come from department funds. After a closed meeting, the senators unanimously approved The Free Press keeping their stipends at eight. This decision comes despite the fact that The Free Press and WMPG will most likely move out from under the SGA’s control before the start of the Fall semester, which would render the vote useless due to the differences between the SGA and USM’s rules about stipends. In the event that The Free Press stays under the SGA, this vote will be revisited at the start of the Fall semester.
Aside from the Constitution changes, another notable event was the Gorham Campus Activities Board (GCAB) officially changing their name to Campus Activities Board. This decision was first approved by the committee itself and then brought to the Student Senate, who unanimously approved the name change.
In the public comment session of the March 10th meeting, USM’s Coordinator of Recreation, Katriana Pratt, came to the Student Senate on behalf of USM’s E-Sports club. The club currently has over 100 members, some of whom have entered and won competitions. Pratt asked the Senate if there were any leftover funds to help create an E-Sports room for next year. Since it wasn’t an official proposal, and no senators responded to her inquiry, the situation could be brought up again sometime in the future.
Lastly, the results of the student-wide vote sent out by Lewis on Tuesday, March 7th, came in with both questions passing. The first question proposed shifting the structure of student activity fees to have all undergraduate students, both in-person and online, pay the student activity fee. The question passed with 67.8% in favor. The second question proposed shifting the structure of the student activity fee amount from a $40/$60/$80 format to a $5 per credit-hour format for all undergraduate students, no matter the modality or location of the class. The question passed with 76.5% in favor.