By Jamie Welch, Editor-in-Chief
An open forum for club representatives to share their concerns and offer suggestions was cut short at Monday’s Student Senate meeting.
The forum was organized by Clubs Liaison Christina Noto in response to complaints she received from clubs about the club representatives’ role in Senate. The forum was intended as a time for clubs to make their voices heard and engage in dialogue with the voting body of the Senate.
Senate manages an approximate $100,000 budget and it can be difficult to get access to these funds without being recognized by Senate. One of the requirements of recognition is that the club must send a representative to every Student Senate meeting. It is written in the Senate by-laws that the representative must be engaged in the meeting. Failure to send a representative to Senate meetings will lead to de-recognition.
Although club representatives are allowed to participate in discussion on motions, they are not allowed to vote, a fact that Noto said has been a point of contention between the senators and some of the club representatives.
Noto said clubs representatives have been frustrated with the Senate Executive Board, and she wanted to provide a venue for those individuals to share their ideas.
“I believe that we need to find a solution because I don’t want clubs to feel frustrated,” Noto said. “It’s my job to represent them, and I wanted to be sure that their interests are being considered.”
Suggestions offered at the meeting included eliminating the requirement for club representatives to come to every meeting, or the ability for one person to represent several clubs.
Senator Andy Kellam commented that the discussion was unproductive and moved that the discussion be tabled until next week so that the meeting could move on to budget requests. The motion passed.
“When they voted to end discussion I got the impression that the senators just want to be on Senate as a resume booster and don’t really care about the clubs,” Biosphere Senate Rep Jake Marogi said after the Senate meeting. “They just wanted to be in and out as fast as they could. If they truly cared about the clubs, they would have stayed an extra ten minutes,” he said.
Marogi said that he was prepared to walk out of the meeting after the motion to end discussion passed, but stayed to support clubs like BSU, GASA and DCF that had budget requests on the table that evening.
“If they were going to cut it short when people had their hands up to speak…I wanted to leave,” Marogi said. “If they’re going to belittle club reps like that then I don’t want to be a part of it.”
Marogi said that the best solution to appease the clubs is to allow the club representatives to vote on budget requests since the clubs are the beneficiaries of those requests and have the biggest stake in what happens to budget funds. Marogi said he was surprised to learn that Senate had already exhausted its primary budget account early in the semester.
Marogi said that Biosphere and several other clubs want to organize a trip to the March for Science being held this April in Washington, but it’s going to be difficult to make that a reality.
“We’re going to have to fight for $2,000 whereas other clubs got much more money much more easily,” Marogi said.
One member of Senate expressed their frustration with tabling the discussion: Senator Michael Mancuso said following the Senate meeting, “As a staunch supporter of club rights in the senate, I was disappointed by the motion.”
Noto echoed Mancuso’s sentiment and said that she is committed to continuing to serve as an advocate for the clubs.
“At Monday’s meeting we had some really great discussion about the problems that clubs are having and potential solutions to those problems,” Noto said after the meeting. “It is unfortunate that conversation was cut short. I sometimes feel the frustration that clubs have. I want to do everything I can to speak up for them, ease those frustrations and do everything I can to help them have a say.”
“Clubs are very valuable to Senate and it’s unfortunate that they’re frustrated,” Noto added.
The clubs discussion is set to continue at the next Senate meeting, which will be held Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. in CUB 260.