Student Senate officially inducted its members for the next academic year and honored current and past Senate members during Wednesday’s meeting.
President Hannah Clouser, Vice President Courteney Muhl and Treasurer Steve Lichtenfels were sworn into their positions along with the rest of the elected 2016-17 Senate members.
The body spent most of the final meeting of the academic year voting on honors for graduating members as well as those that have either graduated or left Senate.
Senior honors were awarded to outgoing Chief of Staff Abigail Fairbanks and outgoing Vice President Jared Ohnsman.
“Jared came in the Senate at a time when accountability wasn’t a priority, and he brought back that feeling of accountability,” Academic Affairs Commissioner William Kolenky said of Ohnsman.
Senator emeriti awards were given to outgoing President Gabby Bacha, South Green Senators Austin Wick and Essence Rivers and LGBTQA Affairs Commissioner Paige Klatt. The senator emeriti award holds the same honors as the Senior honors but also allows its recipients lifetime speaking privileges in Senate meetings and lifetime full use of the Senate office in Baker University Center, according to the Senate Rules and Procedures.
“I think it says a lot about Gabby that she was on the body for all four years (she was at OU) despite some of the things that have happened in the past four years,” Jacob Haskins, chairman of the Senator Emeriti Committee, said of Bacha. “She took a lot of flak for stuff that she did, but she stood up for what she believed in.”
Senate also voted to give senator emeriti awards to former LGBTQA Affairs Commissioner Taylor Hufford and former Treasurer Carter Phillips. Phillips was most notable for resigning from his position in the middle of the 2014-15 academic school in the midst of former president Megan Marzec’s “Blood Bucket Challenge” scandal as a sign of protest.
Haskins said that Phillips deserved the award for his efforts in rewriting the rules for the Senate Appropriations Commission, which allocates funds to OU student organizations.
Former members of Senate present for the meeting praised Phillips’ decision to step down as treasurer in 2014.
“Sometimes, leadership means knowing when you need to step away, and I think that Carter really embodies that,” former Vice President and senator emeriti Mary Kate Gallagher said before the vote on Phillips’ award.
Jneanne Hacker, the Director for Business Operations and Conference Services for Ohio University Housing and Residence Life, was awarded the Bobcat Medal. According to the Rules and Procedures, the medal is presented by Senate to any person that makes an “especially meritorious contribution” to Ohio University.
“She has affected all of our lives in some way,” Gallagher said. “She has worked tirelessly to make sure that every student has a bed and has an ability to stay as successful as (they) can be.”
Dean of Students and interim Vice President of Student Affairs Jenny Hall-Jones commended the work Senate did over the past academic year.
“There were a couple of references to last year’s Senate being broken and us coming together this year, and I would argue that Senate was not broken last year,” Hall-Jones said. “I would argue that because Senate last year set the stage for you all to do some amazing this year.”
Senate also voted to endorse “The Buzz,” a mobile news application that would curate national news and campus news from outlets like The New Political, The Post and The Athens News. The app, run through USA Today, would replace most but not all of the physical copies of USA Today available on campus through the Bobcat Readership Program and cost around $12,000.
“Students that I’ve talked to seem pretty receptive of it,” Clouser said. “Our Twitter poll said that 76 percent of students would like to see that.”
The app is set to go live during the 2016-17 academic year.