Executive Senator Reports

Vice President Aaron Finkel ’19 reported that the executive board is “really excited” about Presence, a new website that the University will begin using.

Committee Chair Reports

Senators had no major news to report in their committee chair reports.

Unfinished Business

The Senate voted on two Bylaw amendments from last week’s meeting and a Senate Money Resolution.

The first Bylaws amendment, “Amendment Clarifying Allocations Board Policy,” would add the following clause to the Bylaws: “The Allocations Board’s Funding Scope shall include the criteria for the rejection of Marathon appeals.” Marathon is the formal time period during which club leaders request funding for club activities. Chartered clubs request funding on a semesterly basis, while secured clubs only request funding during Spring marathon for the upcoming fiscal year. The amendment passed in a vote of acclamation.

The second amendment, “Amendment Regarding Union Senate Committee Outreach,” was proposed last week by Class of 2022 Senator Nancy Zhai. The version of the amendment proposed at last week’s meeting would require committee chairs to spend time each week doing social media outreach. Zhai said she valued the “input” of other senators at that meeting and modified the amendment to make the social media outreach “optional” as each committee chair sees fit. Zhai said the amendment, “will not put any pressure on any of the committee chairs,” responding to concerns from Class of 2021 Senator Nakul Srinivas that the social media outreach would be a waste of time for the committee chairs. The Senate voted on the motion by roll call. The total was 10 for, seven opposed. With less than a two-thirds majority, the Bylaws amendment failed to pass.

Next, the Senate discussed “A Senate Money Resolution Relating to Student and Faculty Kickback,” which would allocate more than $500 for an April 8 event that would give minority students a chance to interact with faculty members with whom they might not otherwise have the chance to do so. Racial Minority Senator Geraldine Bogard ’20 said the event would be open for 20 to 30 students. Bogard explained that a survey was sent to a number of students to assess interest in the event, and that 16 students indicated interest in the event.

Off-Campus Senator Jacob Diaz ’20 was skeptical of the quantity of food that would be purchased for the event: Three 100-piece trays of chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks and mini egg rolls with sweet and sour sauce, costing $75, $65, and $60, respectively, and a garden salad that would serve 25 and would cost $45. Diaz said less food would be needed. “When I’m hungry… I can eat maybe five chicken tenders,” he said. Bogard concurred and removed the mozzarella sticks from the SMR.

Senator-at-Large Noah Nguyen ’21 said the goal of the event was already fulfilled by the “take your professor to lunch” program the university offers. Bogard defended the SMR, saying the lunch program did not connect students with a “stranger” faculty member.

The Senate voted on the SMR by roll call. The SMR was passed, with 16 senators supporting the resolution, and two opposition votes from Diaz and Village Quad Senator Jake Rong ’21.

New Business

Finkel announced that he wants to formally appoint committee chairs for the current semester. “In the future, this will hopefully be done at the beginning of every semester,” he said. His appointments passed by a vote of acclamation. Ridgewood Quad Senator Leigh Salomon ’19 introduced an amendment to formalize the requirement that Senators serve on two committees. Finkel delayed the vote to next week.

Finkel introduced an amendment which would eliminate an article of the Bylaws concerning “Special Union Programs,” which “includes an award that we’re technically supposed to give out as a Senate,” but has not been given out for years. The article also contains a clause requiring the Senate to create a course evaluation guide, which is obsolete because the University now publishes it. In addition, the amendment proposes to eliminate the Office of Student Rights and Advocacy, an institution which Finkel says is “redundant.” He added that the current OSRA chair is in favor of eliminating the office. Finkel encouraged Senators to consider their position and announced that the Senate would be voting on the amendment next week.

Finkel introduced another amendment called “Amendment Repealing Executive Officer Override Power.” Salomon elaborated on the amendment, saying that senators absent from meetings could request to submit a proxy vote on motions. If the vice president approves the proxy vote, the amendment would allow the request to be overridden by a two-thirds vote in the Senate rather than just by the executive senator. The Senate will vote on this amendment next week.

Finkel then turned to the Club Consultant amendment, which requires all secured clubs to have an advisor. The amendment has been met with mixed reception, with the most common misconception, Finkel said, being that club advisors would make club decisions. Having an advisor will “help things run more smoothly,” he said. Srinivas asked if clubs would be sanctioned for failing to find an advisor, to which Finkel replied that every club would be able to have an advisor.

Srinivas also inquired about the status of controversial political clubs, which may not be able to find a faculty member comfortable with advising them. Finkel and Nguyen replied that the club could consult with a staff member, and Zhai suggested that these clubs could consult the Department of Student Activities if no faculty or staff member was comfortable advising them.

Bogard and Rong asked if the amendment document is available to the public. Finkel replied that the document is not available to the public, but anyone who desired to read it could request it.

Senator Reports

Bogard reported that she and Racial Minority Senator Denezia Fahie ’22 have been working with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on a proposed new training for clubs who put on events on sensitive topics like racism and mental health. 

Class of 2019 Senator Vidit Dhawan, who also serves on the Allocations Board, announced that Marathon decisions would be out next Monday.

During his report, Diaz said that he was “disappointed” that the Union spent time arguing about policies when Senators did not prepare in advance for the discussion, referencing earlier arguments about the SMR and the club advisor amendment. Finkel implored Senators to read his emails about the agenda before the meeting.

Zhai reported that many of the laptop charging cables in Goldfarb do not work and requested that East Quad Senator and Campus Operations Committee chair Taylor Fu ’21 address the issue.

Massell Quad Senator Kendal Chapman ’22 reported that she was working with senior Community Advisors to put on a flea market event for departing seniors to sell their old school items. Additionally, the event will allow underclassmen to donate their items or sell them, with the money from sales going to charity. Chapman expressed her disappointment with senators who did not go to the “Meet the Union” event, stating that she had reminded the Senate about it for several weeks. She and Srinivas also emphasized that the Senate had chosen the time based on everyone’s schedules.

Senate meetings are held Sundays at 7 p.m. in the Shapiro Campus Center, room 313. They are open to the public.

—Editor’s Note: Nancy Zhai and Nakul Srinivas are News writers for the Justice.