The University of Rhode Island’s Student Senate discussed bills at length, chose an interim representative for their designated board of trustees position and discussed issues with the ongoing elections during their meeting yesterday.
The bill that caused the most controversy on the floor called for the passage of a new First Amendment to the Student Senate Constitution. Within this amendment was a section stating that the Summer Student Senate would be disbanded as an organization since it was “obsolete.”
Audience member and former Vice President Tristram Howard provided a strong objection to the disbanding of the Summer Senate, stating that he would oppose this bill if he were a member. Howard, who also said that he had written the Senate’s Constitution, said that “the Summer Senate is, and so far as I can tell, has always been, an insurance policy more than anything else.”
Chair of the Instruments Committee John Bagley pushed further for passage of the amendment.
“If we do not pass this, we will be going against everything we’ve done since last April,” John Bagley, head of the Instruments Committee, said in response to objections.
Senators Christopher Bove and Annabel Cimbal also said that in the event of an emergency, the Senate could communicate and set up an emergency meeting.
“To have people meet here with no purpose is a waste of everyone’s time,” Senator Billy Ferrara said in response to the discussion on Summer Senate.
Aside from Howard, the biggest voice of dissent among those in attendance was Student Organizations Committee Chair Austyn Ramsay.
“To my knowledge, we have groups that have running budgets over the summer, correct?” said Ramsay. “That means that we definitely need business over the summer and we need accountable people so I think the Summer Assembly is very important.”
Bagley said in response that changes made to Student Senate bylaws since the last time the Summer Senate met had “neutered the power of Summer Assembly.”
Donna Osgood said that the Summer Senate couldn’t do much besides organize bylaws.
The bill passed by the required three-fourths majority in the end, with Ramsay, Allison Lantagne, Bolu Taiwo and Taylor Webster the only “nay” votes.
Following the meeting, Howard told the body that “the proposed changes to the Constitution will now be voted on by the student body at large on a later date.”
The Student Senate also unanimously passed bills to recognize the Fine Arts Club, K-Pop Club, Economic Student Association, Kappa Kappa Psi band fraternity, Feminists URI and Society for Women in Computing as student organizations. Additionally, a bill calling to transfer $6,000 to Alima International Dance Association was approved after they were accidentally not given a budget last year.
The Senate also voted to recommend Bove to an interim position on URI’s board of trustees. Bove had previously held a position on the Rhode Island Board of Education as a senior in high school and cited his experience as a reason why he should be the nominee.
Bove received six votes to Bagley’s five, Senator Grace Kiernan’s five and Senator Zack Nardone’s four. Every candidate for the position complimented the three others, saying they would all be qualified and do a good job with the position.
The vote to nominate Bove is officially a formality, however, since the power to appoint this position falls to President Nick Marotta.
Elections Committee Chair John Morabito said that the issues with the elections, held online through URI’s CampusLabs website for the first time, were getting fixed at the time of the meeting. Campus-wide elections for a position on Student Senate continue until 11:45 p.m. tonight.
Bagley, who is running for Vice President on a ticket with Joseph Lachance, said he was “severely disappointed” with the election issues on CampusLabs.
Bagley also made sure to thank Austyn Ramsay and her campaign on behalf of himself and Lachance, and said that she “genuinely [did] not run a toxic campaign.” Ramsay reciprocated, and said, “It was nice that we could be pro-us but not anti-each other.”
Moderator Ryan McWeeney additionally thanked both campaigns for “[breaking] the mold of toxicity between previous campaigns.”