Home Campus Pat McGee addresses Student Senate; Senate endorses Center for Student Legal Services

Pat McGee addresses Student Senate; Senate endorses Center for Student Legal Services

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Athens City Council candidate Patrick McGee. File photo by Hayley Harding.

Managing Attorney Pat McGee said CLSC waiver fee may hike if contract is renewed.

Student Senate discussed and unanimously endorsed the potential renewal of the Center for Student Legal Services at the body’s Wednesday meeting.

The future of the Center for Student Legal Service (CSLS) is in question as its contract with Ohio University is up for renewal this year. The renewal first needs to go through the university’s legal team, then the Board of Trustees needs to approve the proposal.

Managing Attorney Pat McGee — who announced during the meeting he will be retiring from the service within the year — credited Senate for the creation of CSLS, and asked the body for its endorsement to ensure the service will be offered in the future.

“We’re hoping we’ve earned that endorsement again,” McGee said.

Since 2010, the service has costed $12 per semester; the fee may increase to $15 if the university approves the contract renewal. McGee said the increase is to stabilize the finances of the non-profit venture.

The CSLS was founded in 1997 to offer legal representation in Athens County Municipal Courts to students in matters ranging from parking tickets, to underage alcohol offenses, to landlord-tenant disputes, McGee said.

McGee said the intention of the service is to help alleviate the burden legal problems pose to students.

“When you have legal issues, it’s like a snowball rolling down a mountain,” McGee said. “It’s not just a legal problem for you; it affects your ability to be a student. It affects your career. It affects your finances. It becomes an avalanche eventually.”

In 2008, CSLS had massive reduction in students using the service, which McGee blamed partially on the recession. Since 2008, it has rebuilt its representation and CSLS now counsels approximately 900 students a year on legal matters, McGee said.

“It’s a great thing to have an opportunity to do good and serve so many people,” McGee said.

Senate voted unanimously to endorse the CSLS, with an outpouring of support for the program.

Jon Schlosser, secondary sponsor of the bill, cited the Baker 70 as an example of the impact the CSLS has had on the the student body. Schlosser said the fee should be unwaivable.

“This is a steal for $15 a semester,” he said. “For the price of two Chipotle burritos, you’re getting a lawyer.”

Senate also unanimously voted to approve renovations for the South Beach basketball courts.

The renovations will include replacing the nets, backboards, getting new trash cans, and potentially new benches.

Black Affairs Commissioner Brian Jones said that Housing Director Pete Trentacoste estimated that the project will cost $600. The university will be paying for the repairs to the court.

The repairs are already in progress, but Senate wants to hold the university accountable to their promises, Maddie Sloat, president of Student Senate, said.

Some senators raised concerns about the makeshift skatepark set up on the basketball courts, but Jones said he included language in the bill to reflect the desire to share the space with those who use the skatepark.

In other business:

  • The Student Trustees addressed Student Senate to recap the October Board of Trustees meeting.
  • Senate passed a resolution to update and clarify the succession of the Judicial Panel.
  • Student Senate passed several resolution to appoint senators to various committees.
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