The University of Rhode Island Student Senate meeting Wednesday night had lengthy debates over bills concerning monthly presidents’ meetings times and the funded/unfunded status of recognized student groups.
Lexi Evers, chairwoman of the Student Organization Advisory and Review Committee set forth a bill that called for the removal of the 7 p.m. time constraint for monthly club Presidents’ meetings.
Senator Patrick Feeney adamantly opposed the bill. Feeney explained during the debate that he had reached out to Evers requesting she survey student groups about preferred time, but she allegedly refused. Feeney took matters into his own hands and polled student organizations. Survey results revealed that the majority of student groups preferred 7 p.m. to any other time. Feeney also claimed that “no clubs actually asked for this.” Ultimately, the bill to change the time of the meeting failed.
The Senate also debated a Finance Committee bill proposing to strike the unfunded/funded status from the Senate’s Constitution. Finance Chairman Zachary Taylor was concerned with the actions of Senate being “conducive to viewpoint discrimination” against political organizations on campus.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) contacted Student Senate about apparent viewpoint discrimination interfering with these organizations and the withholding of funding based on viewpoints. Chairman Taylor strongly advocated for the passage of the bill to show “concrete evidence that [Student Senate is] making progress for their benefit.”
Senator Austin Vutech expressed that the input of President Adriana Wilding and from the University’s legal team would be needed to make a clearer decision on the bill. President Wilding was absent during this debate, thus this bill was tabled for next week.
The Talent Development Student Board and Doctors Without Borders Student Chapter at the University of Rhode Island were recognized as unfunded student organizations. The Status of The Society For Women in Computing was recognized as a funded organization.
At the beginning of the meeting, a motion was made to adjourn at 8:30 p.m.. But, when the discussions ran over, there was time spent debating the proposed adjournment. Few Senators expressed that they wanted to leave at this time, as others highly debated this, wanting to continue to discuss the bills of the night. Chairman Taylor and Chairman Mark Gall stated that the Senators that weren’t prepared to stay shouldn’t bother to show up to meetings or should resign from Senate. Other Senators expressed their disgust at the inefficiency of the meeting as well.