Student Senate Report 2/1/2023

Illustration by: Maddie Bataille | Photo Editor

The Spring 2023 session of the University of Rhode Island Student Senate is off to a quick start.

A fourth amendment to the URI Student Senate Constitution was proposed, a new at-large representative was elected and concern was expressed regarding an elevated level of complaints regarding off-campus student houses.

The proposed amendment, which will be voted on in three weeks’ time, would allow part-time students to serve on the Senate.

 “When you consider that most part-time undergraduate students are disproportionately more likely to be Pell Grant recipients, adult learners, students with children or first-generation students, it’s clear that this is an underrepresented group of students,” said Assembly Speaker Christopher Bove. “I feel like this change to allow them to serve as student government would make us a more equitable body.”

The eligibility of part-time students to serve on the Student Senate will also protect the ability of current senators who shift to part-time enrollment to continue to serve, External Affairs Chair Jose Montoya argued.

“That’s what happened to Senator Peron — he was a great senator, and it’s a shame that we lost him,” Montoya said.

The vote will allow an estimated 778 part-time students to participate in student politics. Also included in the amendment is a change to the structure of the Speaker of the Assembly position, which will change the nature of the speakership to include the Speaker as a member of the Assembly.

First-year Timothy Small was unanimously elected to the Student Senate as an at-large representative after being nominated by Senator Jake Milner. A current theatre major considering a political science major, Small was spoken of in high regard by both Senator Milner and Speaker Bove.

Chair Jose Montoya expressed concern regarding an elevated number of “party house stickers” issued to off-campus houses hosting parties. Issued by the Narragansett Police Department, stickers are issued to houses rented by URI students with multiple interactions with law enforcement. The Narragansett Police Department issued five stickers to URI students in the first week of the semester.

“Let’s try to figure out a way to communicate ways to have much more relaxed and healthy neighborhood relationships when you’re hosting parties and events,” Montoya said. “We’re going to put up informative material on how to be a better host and a good neighbor while you’re hosting an event or a party.” 

Chair Johnson reminded the senate body that the Student Organizations Fair will take place on Feb. 9. The student organizations presidents’ meeting will take place on Monday, Feb. 6 — all clubs are required to send at least one executive board member.

The Cultural Affairs Committee will host a celebration of Tu B’shvat Seder, a Jewish holiday. One of the Jewish calendar’s four new year celebrations, Tu B’shvat Seder is often celebrated as a holiday promoting ecological awareness. The celebration will occur Sunday, Feb. 5 at 11 a.m.

The Student Senate will next meet Wednesday, Feb. 8 with University of Rhode Island Police Chief Michael Jagoda in attendance.