Student Senate Report 11/30/2022

Illustration by: Maddie Bataille | Photo Editor

This week from the Senate floor: Uhuru Sasa passionately presented their case opposing a potential Senate bill.

After their Spring Fashion Show last semester, Uhuru Sasa received a notice from Memorial Union citing multiple infractions by the organization. This notice was later brought to the Student Senate, which wrote a bill to impose sanctions against the organization, including the suspension of their event this year.

Uhuru Sasa claimed that there was a lack of communication between the Senate and them and that the bill was biased and lacked sufficient information to have been written. Additionally, the organization presented its case against each claim within the notice. 

They began by addressing the complaint that they were in the building on a weekend with limited staff. They acknowledged this but also stated that they had reserved the space in which their show was held months in advance, giving building staff enough time to prepare.

They continued, saying that the organization stayed past their scheduled time, which was due to a miscommunication that delayed their setup. While they had scheduled to begin setup at 8:00 a.m., their setup time had been marked by the Memorial Union as 10:00 a.m. Their planned emcee was also delayed by traffic, causing their show to begin over ninety minutes late, which led to the show running over its allotted time. 

The show ended at 9:51 a.m., with everyone having left by 10:26 a.m., even though their reservation for the room ended at 8:30. Building management claimed that police got involved, yet Uhuru Sasa reached out to the officer, who they stated had no issue with the show.

They could not cut the show short, either, as they believed it would be unfair to the models and audience. The fashion show had over 50 models, with many from outside of their organization, that would have been affected by ending the show early.

The organization was also cited for two infractions that they believe are contradicting. One cites that they left a mess in the room they held the event, forcing staff to remain in the building until 12:30 p.m., while another claims that they did not leave the building fast enough due to attempting to help the janitors clean up. The Senate noted that janitors have complained about students attempting to help clean multiple times to multiple organizations in the past.

After responding to the infractions, Uhuru Sasa said that their fashion show helps to keep their organization alive, as it is their marquee event that attracts more new members than anything else they do. They also said it is also an important event for everyone who puts the show together, as upwards of five months go into planning it.

This was the end of the discussion regarding the bill sanctioning Usuru Sasa. There was no discussion about the bill itself, and the vote was pushed to next week.

Following the students of Uhuru Sasa, the organization’s advisor, Charles Watson, addressed the senators, claiming that they had been “duped” by Memorial Union workers into passing what they wanted, rather than truly representing students. He stressed, however, that he was not just appearing in front of the Senate for the interests of Uhuru Sasa but for the Senators. He said he hopes to work towards collaboration in an attempt to resolve this issue.

Upon the ending of Uhuru Sasa’s presentation, the Senate took a ten-minute recess, during which an early adjournment was considered. However, they proceeded onward.

The Academic Affairs Committee reminded everyone that students have final exam rights, which are posted on the @rhodysenateacademics Instagram account. Any suspected violations should first be brought to professors, and any further violations should be reported to the Academic Affairs Committee.

The Campus Affairs Committee has reached out to parking services, requesting that any snow plowing patterns within lots should be reworked to minimize spaces blocked by piles of snow.

The Executive Committee announced that the Narragansett Town Council has new members, all supportive of the currently overturned housing ordinance. Multiple houses, including those of multiple Senators, have been cited by Narragansett as having more than three bedrooms, potentially breaking future ordinances.

A new senator was elected this week, with Rebecca Sama being elected as an at-large senator.

Two new student organizations were recognized this week, the “Self-Defense Club” and the “URI Triathlon Club.” Both recognition bills passed the Senate unanimously. 

While in a previous meeting, the Senate passed a bill looking for the standardization of professors’ attendance policies, a revised version of the same bill passed the Senate. The previous bill was seen as too demanding by the Faculty Senate and was reworked to be beneficial to both students and professors. This bill was also passed unanimously.

The Senate will reconvene in its chambers next Wednesday, Dec. 6.