By Gauri Mangala, Managing Editor
The Monday, April 26 meeting of Student Senate opened with a presentation from Rod Tosten ‘85, Vice President for Information Technology, and Tom Franza, Director of Infrastructure and Computing, regarding the ways that IT could most benefit the campus after the removal of classroom computer labs due to COVID-19.
Students spoke up about requesting that the college fund larger packages of softwares needed for computer science and economics courses that now need to be downloaded to their personal computers and laptops.
Eric Lee ‘15, a freelance photojournalist based in Washington, D.C., delivered a presentation on his project surrounding Asian-American teenagers in New York. Lee was invited to speak at Student Senate as part of Gettysburg’s commitment to discussing Asian-American hate and standing with the AAPI community.
Parliamentarian Lauren Browning ‘22 then moved into old business with some amendments. A long discussion followed the reintroduction of the non-recognized club funding amendment that would allow clubs that are not recognized by senate to seek funding from the Budget Management Committee.
Senator Nadine Snyder ‘21 considered that other solutions might be better served to include clubs that are currently not recognized. She suggested shortening weekly meetings to make meetings more accessible. “I understand we don’t want to be dangling money over clubs, that makes sense to me. However, I do think we should be finding ways to engage them in Senate first and then passing an amendment like this,” said Snyder. She suggested that this amendment would be something that the next executive board should look at.
Arts Affinity Group Leader Garrett Adams ‘22 pushed back. “I think that doing this shows that we are committed to actually trying to help clubs,” he said. “Again, I don’t think that us holding onto the money that should be used for their events and trying to force us to come to our club is really the way forward in that.”
To that point, Snyder stated that if the senate was looking to show clubs that the senate was committed to them, club representatives should be given a vote.
President-elect Syd Quan ‘22 sought to speak to Snyder’s considerations of engagement. “In terms of next year, I really want to rearrange the agenda,” she said. “The structure of a senate meeting should go in the order of putting clubs first, especially if they don’t necessarily have to be here for all of the bureaucratic stuff we talked about.”
Senator Shane Carley ‘22 stated that the language of the amendment was misleading in that the non-recognized clubs need to still be recognized by the college to receive funding.
Adams pushed back, “We can do multiple things to increase engagement. We can decide to vote on whether club reps have a vote or not and still pass this. I think that we’re kind of leading, in a way, away from the point of the inclusion committee. There are clubs that actively choose not to be part of senate every single semester. And every single semester, senate says ‘we’re going to try and be more inclusive.’ This is, I think, a building block and a stepping stone towards that. Butterfly coalition. Survivors. Two huge clubs that actively choose to not be part of Senate. This is us saying that we want to at least extend our hand.”
Senator and Inclusion Officer-elect Alexandros Economou-Garcia ‘22 spoke to the lack of communication between senate and non-recognized clubs. “Here we are again putting a bandage on a long-term issue just so that some people can look good in the future,” he said. “I just also want to point out that the constitution can be taken and put into whole new contexts. I’ve seen that with inclusion committee. I think, yes, Daniel’s done a great job. But there are so many aspects of it that have been done completely incorrectly that have been written word-to-word to follow a simple process that my committee members and I in the ad-hoc committee have spent all summer and the first have of the semester working on.” Economou-Garcia echoed past arguments that this amendment should be handled by next year’s executive board.
Inclusion committee member EJ Gill ‘22 said, “Inclusion spent a semester talking about this and going back and forth. This passed unanimously through inclusion. I think it’s a good way to bridge the gap between clubs and senate.” Gill spoke against waiting until next semester. “How much time do you guys need to think about this? I really don’t think it’s that controversial that we shouldn’t be holding funds from organizations that should have a right to these funds.”
Policy committee chair Giacomo Coppola ‘22 stated that he believed the scope and impact of the amendment was ill-defined. “What is the role of the secretary if only the thirty voting members are expected to attend every week? How are we going to maintain attendance when really the only reason that club representatives, and many have testified to this fact, are showing up is because of the senate recognition that comes through club funding.”
After much debate, Snyder moved to send the amendment back to the Policy committee. The motion passed.
Two more amendments, the Senate Recognized Obligations Amendment and the Senate First-Year Programming amendment, both passed without discussion.
The Budget Management Committee brought forward a budget request from the College Life Advisory Committee for $14,320 to make the string lights installation on Stine Lake a permanent installation. The budget was approved.
Vice President Katie Troy ‘21 then led a discussion regarding an election violation attributed to Vice President-elect Colin Hughes’ campaign. A poster was found in Glatfelter Hall, which violates the election rules that state that posters cannot be placed in academic buildings.
After a few clarifying questions to Hughes, who is off-campus, the senate determined to not give any penalties. As the agenda moved forward, students on the Zoom chat continued to press about why Hughes was not receiving sanctions.
During student concerns, Senator Abby Hauer ‘21 brought up the distrust that students have with each other with the increase in reporting of covid violations. Many students echoed Hauer’s sentiments, adding that the sanctions for certain groups and individuals, specifically athletes, have been lighter than for others.
Gill unmuted to state that “Senate is an entrenched organization and it proved that tonight” and muted himself again.
Senate’s final meeting of the 2020-21 academic year will be held on Monday, May 3.