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Student Senate spent most of last semester reforming themselves

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Out of the 74 resolutions the 2015-16 Ohio University Student Senate heard as a body during the fall semester, only 10 of them did not concern the senate itself.

The senate focused the past semester on reversing the changes made by the previous Senate and bringing about election reform. Some of the changes include reversing to many of the semantic rules that governed Senate in years past, rejecting last year’s Senate’s plans to turn the body into a direct democracy and instituting multiple contribution caps for Senate campaigning during election season.

Student Senate president Gabby Bacha says the reason for the amount of resolutions concerning Senate itself is that every rule change needs a different resolution, and that the amount of resolutions concerning the student government itself is no different than other governments. In comparison, the Ohio State University Undergraduate Student Government (USG) heard 12 resolutions out of 23 this fall semester that concerned USG itself, and the University of Toledo student government heard 12 resolutions that concerned themselves this semester out of 18.

I think this year we’ve had to clean up the body a lot,” Bacha said via email. “There have been multiple years where we as a Senate were not functioning as well as we could have or should have. In order to do our jobs, we have to have a sound internal structure.”

To make things simple, resolutions can be placed into five categories. First is Internal Affairs, which deals with the procedures on how Senate is run and the addition of new members. Next is Internal Funding, which deals with resolutions which allow Senate to spend funds on itself, whether it be purchasing a table for Senate members at a banquet or buying new office supplies. After that is Elections, and as the name states, this section deals with Student Senate elections and the procedures of the body and appointing new members. The fourth category, External Affairs, is the least used by Student Senate and concerns it making a statement as a whole body, whether it’s supporting minority students at the university or supporting a protest. Finally, External Funding is funding for events and services that students outside of Senate can attend and use.

Out of the 74 resolutions the Student Senate heard in the fall semester, a majority of them fell into the Internal Affairs category, with a total of 48 resolutions, or 64.9 percent of the total resolutions heard. Resolutions related to Senate elections were fairly common as the body debated changes to the election structure for three consecutive weeks. These resolutions made up 13.5 percent of the total resolutions heard, or 10 resolutions total. Resolutions for internal funding were somewhat fewer, making up 8.1 percent of the total resolutions heard, or six resolutions total.

Resolutions in the External Funding category were the third most popular, making up 10.8 percent of the total resolutions heard, or eight resolutions total. Not surprisingly, External Affairs was the least-popular type of resolution, making up just 2.7 percent of the total resolutions heard, or two resolutions total.

Illustration by Kylie Hulver
Illustration by Kylie Hulver

When this year’s Senate is compared to last year’s Senate after it’s fall semester, the latter heard somewhat more of a variety of resolutions. Last year’s Senate, run by President Megan Marzec and fellow student activists mostly organized under the Restart ticket, heard a larger percentage of resolutions that weren’t about themselves during the fall semester, although a large majority of them still concerned Senate itself.

Of the 57 resolutions the 2014-15 Student Senate heard in the fall semester, 45.6 percent (26 total) of them fell under the Internal Affairs category, 19.3 percent (11 total) fell under the External Funding category, 15.8 percent (nine total) concerned Student Senate elections, 10.5 percent (six total) were Internal Funding resolutions and 8.8 percent (five total) of the resolutions fell under the External Affairs category. In short, last year’s Student Senate heard 17 resolutions out of 57 total, or 29.8 percent, that did not concern themselves in its fall semester.

Bacha also said that Senate’s work over the last semester cannot be attributed to just resolutions.

“When the confusion over (OU’s Survivor Advocacy Program) was occurring, Senate was able to bring administrations and key students involved and have them sit down and seek clarification about the situation, and receive input,” Bacha continued in an email. “When many students on campus said they felt the climate can be racist – we responded with many approaches including: cultural competency classes and recruitment and retention of more campus leaders from diverse backgrounds.”

The New Political is including the data it used to create the comparisons between the 2015-16 Senate and the 2014-15 Senate below.

2015-16 Student Senate fall semester resolutions

2014-15 Student Senate fall semester resolutions

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