Student Senate began their first meeting of the night by discussing an appeal of the stipend review process for Yearbook Renaissance’s Editor in Chief. During the stipend review process, Yearbook lost all their stipends. The Student Organization Advisory Review Committee (SOARC) cut the Yearbook’s Editor in Chief stipend because they felt that the Yearbook did not have an inherent impact on student life. They also felt that the yearbook was more a “memento” for seniors rather than being a book for all of the students. “Stipends get paid with student activity tax, not student memento tax,” said one senator. The Yearbook also failed to make their 2015 yearbook, missing the deadline. Another complaint of the Yearbook is that they had only sold 230 yearbooks, which is about 1.6% of the student population.

On the other side, many senators felt that the yearbook is an important cultural item for the university that impacts not only current students, but also future students. Yearbook’s current Editor in Chief discussed how the old Yearbook executive staff were all seniors and failed to recruit members. As a result, the yearbook was left in the hands of freshmen who became overwhelmed and were unable to complete the yearbook. She did mention that they were currently focusing on recruiting members and that without the stipend of the Editor-in-Chief, the yearbook would not be able to be completed anymore.

“There is no doubt in my mind this position qualifies for stipend,” said Finance Chair Cody Anderson, who also noted that while only 230 may have bought the yearbook, thousands have viewed the yearbook each year. Senate ended up voting to approve the appeal and give the Editor in Chief their stipend back by a two-thirds majority.

Senate also voted on the finalists for the commencement speakers for graduation. There were three finalists: Marissa DeOlivera, Caitlin Runyon and Abbey Miklitsch. After three passionate speeches, Senate voted for Caitlin Runyon to be the commencement speaker at graduation.

Student Senate ended their first meeting with completing the elections for the new Senate. The elections left to be completed were Finance chair and SOARC chair. Finance had only one nomination, Ryan Buck, who became the new Finance chairman. The nominees for SOARC chair were current chair Samantha King and her sole challenger, Shawn Antoine. Senators spoke about how King has excelled at her position and successfully implemented the new stipend review process. King spoke about how she wants to continue all the projects and plans that she has, and that she wants to continue to make SOARC an inclusive organization and to continue the necessary stipend review process. She spoke about how she views herself as an ally to organizations and wants to continue to support many organizations.

On the other side, many Senators felt that Shawn Antoine has been a hard worker and has exemplified diversity and inclusivity in his daily life. Antoine talked about how he wants to bring fresh blood to the executive committee and bring diversity into the executive committee. Antoine talked about how he wants to be the chairman of SOARC because he has been a part of many different organizations and understands how other organizations work and feel. He wants to keep SOARC from stagnating, and instead continue to allow the organization to grow and thrive.

Both candidates were asked how they would handle the new controversial stipend review process. Chairwoman Sam King stated that she wants to go to an executive meeting of each stipended organization to provide more information and training to each member. Senator Shawn Antoine spoke about how he would like to get the SOARC members more involved with the organizations and have the members go and meet with each organization. In the end, Senate voted to reelect King to SOARC chair.