This week’s Student Senate meeting included internal elections for representatives, presentations from President Marc Parlange and other administrators and passing a bill to recognize The Daily Ram as a recognized student organization.

The Senate held its first round of internal votes for new representatives, confirming 12 potential candidates. Current nominees include James Scotti, Zach Breene, Lauren Peckham, Nick Johnson and Greta Del Bonis for On-Campus Representative, William Beazley and Ethan Bose for Off-Campus Representative, Argha Gosnani for At-Large Representative, Cameron Chadronet for UCAS Representative, Lauren Palmer for College of Business Representative and Abbigayle Fielder for College of Pharmacy Representative. 

Declarations for the Student Senate are still open and official elections will be held on Oct. 26 and 27. All nominees are subject to verification procedures.   

Parlange presented the Senate with a comprehensive plan for several facets of university operations. Some notable campaigns include University support for Afghan and Haitian refugees, the onboarding of 45 new faculty members, partnerships with other coastal universities to create new sustainability efforts, the appropriation of approximately $123 million in external research grants, expanded experiential based learning, renovations to the Narragansett Campus, the construction of a train station on campus and continuing to build a inclusive community.

“One thing that is very important is this culture of belonging, that you feel like a part of URI, that you feel welcome here,” Parlange said. “We are going to be underpinned by a strong sense of social justice and we are going to promote diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Cheryl Hinkson, the interim co-director of the office of budget and financial planning, followed Parlange’s presentation with one of her own addressing the University budget for this and the upcoming fiscal year, totaling $839 million and $874 million respectively. Hinkson also announced an upcoming increase in in-state and out-of-state tuition of approximately 3.5 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.

While the University’s Board of Trustees has already approved the increase, Hinkson emphasized that the University would expand funding to student aid to maintain the current proportion of the cost to students and disbursement of financial awards.

“What are your plans as president to enforce diversity and inclusion on campus, and how are your plans different from what is happening at URI now, to make it better?” Leila Cox, senate communications director, asked Parlange. 

Parlange cited initiatives to support underrepresented communities, such as local indigenous peoples, as well as extra support for Black men, among several other demographics. 

“Will the money coming in from the [tuition raise] go towards anything in specific or do you guys have a plan for that yet?” Senate Director of Treasury Chris Hoover asked. 

Parlange responded directly, attributing the expanded expenditure to rising upkeep costs and approximately $265 million in “deferred maintenance,” such as the Narragansett Campus renovations that, Parlange admitted, were necessary at this point. 

Following this, the Senate voted unanimously on a bill to recognize The Daily Ram as a student organization. The organization is responsible for creating a weekly student-run talk show. Student Organizations Committee Chair Katie Siegle reported tonight that she will be working with two additional student organizations to sponsor them for recognition in the coming weeks. 

The Senate will reconvene on Oct. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in their chambers at the Memorial Union.