Home Education McDavis speaks at final Student Senate meeting of Fall semester

McDavis speaks at final Student Senate meeting of Fall semester

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Student senate commenced its last meeting of 2012 and fall semester with a standing ovation as Ryan Lombardi entered the room.

The Interim Vice President of Student Affairs had two reasons to be celebrated Wednesday night: his 38th birthday and the successful completion of his doctorate, making him the official VP of Student Affairs – a position he filled at the end of spring quarter after Dr. Kent Smith’s departure.

As an advisor to student senate, Lombardi thanked the members for their support and said, “And I’ll tell you, 38 feels pretty good.” He said was relieved that his dissertation was done,

Senate also bid farewell to three senior members: Chief of Staff Victoria Calderon, Black Affairs Commissioner Seaira Christian-Daniels and Off-Campus Life Senator Harry Olney.

President Zach George thanked them for their service.

Though it was the last meeting until spring semester starts in January, senate had a lot on the agenda. Firstly, senior Torin Jacobs spoke out on the need to raise more funds and extend CatCab services.

Jacobs, who was severely injured earlier this semester, said CatCab dropped him from its roster just four days after he filled out the necessary paperwork, citing that he lived too far outside of the CatCab’s services. CatCab only picks up those in needs of its services within a one mile radius of Baker Center.

Jacobs said he was unsure on how he was going to get to class every day, an emotional hardship he described as a “low point” in his life.

“I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I went through,” Jacobs said, explaining that in his conversations with other disabled students, his view that CatCab needed to be expanded was a shared one.

President Roderick McDavis was in attendance to give a presentation on the newly proposed higher education funding formula and his view on Ohio University’s vision statement.

“What a great time to be a Bobcat,” McDavis said, citing OU student Marshal Scholarship recipient Keith Hawkins, the success of the Promise Lives campaign and OU’s football team’s fourth consecutive bowl game.

McDavis explained the basis for the proposed funding formula for four- and two-year universities that determines funding based on graduation rates, not enrollment. The proposal came from a committee McDavis served on that consisted of 12 Ohio institutions’ presidents appointed by Gov. John Kasich.

“In the United States, there’s been no other state that has given this responsibility to the presidents of four- and two-year universities,” McDavis said, describing the new formula as a significant change in how funding is allocated throughout the state.

McDavis said the proposal is “an output measure, rather than an input measure,” that “creates this accountability to say to you, ‘Not only are we happy that you came to our university, but we are going to do everything we can to make sure you graduate.’”

The president said these measures stop short of simply giving out grades, but gives universities incentives to help its students graduate.

McDavis said he hoped the new formula would be signed into law by spring.

McDavis then shifted his presentation to address concerns about the vagueness of the university’s vision statement, which says Ohio University strives to be the “best student-centered, transformative learning community in America.”

The concern came from senate’s winning party, REACH, during last year’s election. They planned to make the vision statement more specific.

McDavis gave a history lesson on Ohio University’s founders and anecdotes from his time as an undergraduate student here.

“I came here when I was 17… and I was so introverted you couldn’t get two words out of me… now you can’t shut me up,” he said.

“Our vision statement is the heart and soul of what we are,” McDavis said, explaining that the vision statement is moving closer to what Manasseh Cutler and Rufus Putnam founded the university for.

“I know this is a special place,” McDavis said. “No one picks up a brick and keeps it as a keepsake if this isn’t a special place.”

McDavis reminded members of the senate that the vision statement carries meaning and it is not just words.

Senate also heard a presentation from Professor Richard McGinn, who formed a Bill of Rights Committee to start a campaign for a ballot initiative against hydraulic fracturing.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been a controversial issue in Athens. The city council has passed numerous ordinances against fracking, including banning fracking around well-heads.

McGinn explained that because the state and federal government view fracking as inherently safe and for the betterment of communities, any measures to ban fracking are overlooked, despite evidence of harmful effects.

“The complaint [on fracking] turns out to be frivolous,” McGinn said of the legal system, “because it is designated as frivolous by the law.”

The well-head protection plan passed by city council is essentially null, McGinn said, because federal and state laws give all the power to the Bureau of Natural Resources that views fracking as good, which leaves the city open to lawsuits.

“Clearly, something else is needed,” McGinn said, calling on the need for a method to challenge the contention of the law that fracking is an exemption to the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

The committee will seek to pass an ordinance to overturn and ignore state and federal laws on the basis that citizens have the right to the pursuit of happiness, and that the Ohio Constitution bans the contamination of running streams used for domestic reasons.

The Bill of Rights Committee is currently seeking student members to be a part of its campaign.

Lastly, senate passed a resolution to raise the amount senate electorate parties are allowed to raise due to inflation adjustments. The resolution went into debate, but passed with 18 for, 12 against and one abstained.

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