Yesterday’s University of Rhode Island Student Senate meeting was marked mostly by elections, as six new members of Student Senate were sworn in.

Breanni Torres was elected as an at-large representative and Bella Cadavid was elected as a representative for the College of Business. Michael Rios, Tim Berard, Lance Mitchell and Kevin Bugbee were elected as off-campus representatives.

However, this vote was not without controversy, as Bugbee did not show up to the meeting and it was mentioned by Director of Operations Kaylee Goyette that he no longer was interested in the position. He did, however, receive seven votes for the off-campus representative position and therefore was elected alongside Rios, Berard and Mitchell, who all received 20 votes or more.

Additionally, Michael Sullivan was on the ballot as a representative for the College of Environment and Life Sciences, despite it being mentioned by Goyette that he no longer wanted the position as well. He ended up receiving five votes in the election. However, 11 senators abstained and Moderator Ryan McWeeney declared the election voided.  

The only contested elections were for the College of Business and At Large representatives, where Torres’ 17 votes won her the position over her next closest rival, Caleb Hilyard, who received two votes. Torres had the vocal backing of many senators prior to the vote, including Student Organization Chair Austyn Ramsey,  Director of Communications Leila Cox and Senator Bolu Taiwo. 

Cadavid beat out former representative Rose Wood by 18 votes to three.

Other than the elections, a group from the Gender and Sexuality Center came to the meeting to talk about the issue of the lack of gender-neutral bathrooms in many buildings on campus.

 “In the academic buildings of the campus, there aren’t any gender neutral restrooms,” said a representative of the group. “This is a problem for trans and non-binary students because we don’t have a comfortable restroom that we can use during classes, leading us to take detours into other buildings.”

The group also created a list of demands and suggestions, which included that by next semester, a group of bathrooms that could be changed to gender-neutral. Many of these were promised to be changed by David Dooley in 2013, but have not yet been changed. They also demanded for there to be at least one gender-neutral bathroom in every building by 2020. The group explained that all of the bathrooms on the list mentioned prior were single-cell, so the change would not affect cisgender students in any way. Many senators were supportive, including Cultural Chair Lulu Alryati, who promised to make this “a top priority for her committee.”

Six bills were also unanimously passed during the meeting. These recognized the URI Jiu Jitsu Club, Black Student Union, R U OK?, URI Judo Club, Fashion Merchandising Society and URI Club Softball as official student organizations. Both Fashion Merchandising Society and Club Softball will be unfunded. Additionally, Poptropica Pals was recognized as a student organization, although there were four votes against recognizing it.

Student Senate President Nick Marotta also talked about URI’s Bike Share program, which now more likely than not will be happening in 2020. 

Many weekly reports were not given as multiple chairs and directors did not attend this week’s meeting.