Home Politics Student Senate starts school year by reversing last year’s policies

Student Senate starts school year by reversing last year’s policies

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Ohio University Student Senate began the academic year by reserving many decisions implemented by last year’s Senate as to how the body operates.

The Senate, controlled by the SOS ticket that ran in April, passed resolutions to reimplement the parliamentary process Robert’s Rules of Order, give resolutions a formal template and hold meetings weekly instead of biweekly.

Last year’s Senate, controlled by the Ohio University Student Union-based Restart ticket, implemented the old rules during the previous year in an attempt to make the body more approachable to students.

Two senators from the BARE ticket, Honors Tutorial College Sen. Daniel Kington and Off-Campus Sen. Kim Oswald, pushed against the changes during the meeting, most notably against the resolution to reimplement Robert’s Rules.

“The [Student Union University of Quebec in Montreal] rules…that were used in the previous year are 15-16 pages long and is a pretty accessible document,” Kington said. “The Robert’s Rules of Order are 669 pages long. Although [Robert’s Rules] is used in other student organizations, the majority of students are probably not familiar with Robert’s Rules, and I would bet that the majority of people in this room have not read the entirety of [Robert’s Rules].”

The rules sheet used during last year’s Senate was about a page long.

Many other senators defended Robert’s Rules, saying that Senate would be flexible in using the system and that it would bring order to the body. They also argued that learning the basics of the procedure would not be difficult.

“I’m sure there is one class where you have not read the entire book, but you mastered the class and got an A,” LGBTQA Commissioner Paige Klatt said. “We can be one of those bodies that picks and chooses from [Robert’s Rules] so that it is simplified. Even though you’re not following it step-by-step, we’d still have everything we need to work together.”

Lead parliamentarian and co-sponsor of the bill Landen Lama argued that Robert’s Rules were used in nearly every other student organization and that the Quebec rules were too obsecure.

“I know that the procedure set last year, the [Quebec rules], was a bit different,” Lama said. “But we are in America, and these are a set of American rules…I can’t think of one organization that doesn’t use Robert’s Rules of Order.”

Kington also disagreed with the resolution formatting changes, saying the new format is “an added layer of unnecessary bureaucracy,” while West Green Senator and co-sponsor of the resolution Jacob Haskins said the previous less-formal format was confusing.

“Last year, we noticed that it was difficult to point out where there was an error or where we disagreed with something because the entire top [of the resolution] was in one paragraph; it was hard to point out,” Haskins said.

The resolution to make meetings weekly was passed on the basis that students could connect to Senate in an easier manner and that biweekly meetings went on for too long.

Senate also passed a resolution to make uFund a part of the Senate Appropriations Commission, or SAC. SAC Commissioner Charlotte Klimovich said that the move was to improve the communication between the two bodies

uFund, which has an semester budget of around $40,000 generated through disciplinary fines, is a source of funding that gives applicants money for events and projects that provide alternatives to “high-risk behavior,” according to Klimovich. However, the applicants that would receive money were determined solely by the Senate president, which Klimovich called “a bit sketchy.”

uFund was the center of a minor controversy during last year’s Senate, when the Ohio University Men’s Crew team was denied $4,250 for a new dock by former president Megan Marzec on the basis that the dock would not provide an alternative to high-risk behavior, the belief that the team did not search for enough alternative funding opportunities and that the request was a large portion of uFund’s budget.

Senate also spent time discussing the goals the body would like to strive for this year. Many senators pushed for accurately representing students, improving public image and working with OU’s administration.

“My goal for [the senators] is to just remember why you’re here,” Vice President Jared Ohnsman said. “When we’re in a heated debate about something or are really upset about a resolution that just passed, just remember that it might be for the best of the students. This is not somewhere where you can push your personal agenda unless it is to help the whole campus population.”

CORRECTION: In the original version, some incorrect information about uFund was presented, including that it is a form of spot funding. That has since been changed.

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