Student Senate Report 4/28/23

Illustration by: Maddie Bataille | Photo Editor

This week from the Student Senate: changes made to the Student Handbook were outlined, a new Senator and Jurist were elected and a new club was approved in the final Senate meeting of the semester.

After the agenda and minutes from the previous meeting were approved, the Senate welcomed Dean of Students Daniel Graney to explain changes made to the Student Handbook. These changes included updated language to comply with overarching University policy. 

According to Graney, the majority of the changes made to the Student Handbook clarified and updated language and information to make it “less cumbersome.” One of the changes outlined by Graney was the removal of the University Cornerstones language as a part of the 10-year plan published by President Marc Parlange. 

Graney also outlined changes to the limits of the handbook to include threats made online or through social media. Other changes included a clear and comprehensive definition of what a “student” is, removal of examples of misconduct from the handbook, which “limited interpretation,” according to Graney and a removal of outdated language surrounding sexual misconduct and relationship violence prevention in accordance with updated Title XI language. 

“Sexual misconduct and relationship violence policy is being replaced by the University policy on sexual misconduct,” Graney said. “So that covers everybody, including students, faculty, staff, vendors and pretty much anyone on campus and that is the one that is approved by the Board of Trustees and encompasses the whole University.”

Graney addressed concerns about the legitimacy of the new handbook by affirming that the confusion between different policies was a target of mitigation with the new handbook. 

“That’s really the whole purpose behind it,” Graney said. “And it was when we technically fell out of compliance under our Title XI regulations by having these two divergent policies. So that was really the push to get this put out.” 

Another change made in the handbook regards Responses to Charges and Choice of Action forms. Graney explained that the Dean of Students office and the Community Standards office will have the ability to use the software program Maxient to monitor and sanction students who have been sent charges for policy violations.

He explained that when a student is sent a letter of charges they have three business days to respond with how they wish to proceed, accepting the charge and sanction, facing a hearing or accepting the charge and wishing to change the sanction. If a student fails to respond within the three business day window, the Dean or designee is able to determine and sentence the student to a sanction they deem appropriate based on the charge.

Another key change to the handbook referred to academic misconduct, which Graney said is still a fluid policy change, which the Faculty Senate is also working on. 

Following questions and commentary from Senators, Graney’s presentation was over. 

The Senate elected a new Jurist to serve on the Court. Maeve Murphy, a first-year political science major was elected to the position in a unanimous 30-0 vote. After Murphy was voted in, the Senate welcomed four candidates for the available On-Campus Representative position. The candidates were Evelyn Clement, a first-year student from East Greenwich, Rhode Island, Daniel Sikorsky, a first-year from New Jersey, Zoie Ndonye, a first-year student from Kenya and Noah Blake, a second-year student from Connecticut. Ndonye was elected with 21 votes in her favor. Following this election, Murphy, Ndonye and other members of the Senate who had not been signed in yet were signed in. 

The major item of the agenda was introduced at the prior meeting, the approval of The Rhody Rifle Club as a Senate-recognized organization. Members of the Rhody Rifle Club’s e-board were present to share their ideas for the club as well as answer any questions from the chamber. The club looks to provide Olympic-style rifle shooting to students who wish to participate. According to the e-board, they have a partnership with Elite Indoor Gun Range located in South Kingstown. 

The e-board, led by President Emily Lopez, answered questions from Senators, including questions concerning the level of funding, safety and training. 

“Like Senator Johnson said, we’re really about promoting safety,” Lopez said. “I know that’s obviously the biggest concern on campus, regardless of the sport or organization. Just know that that is the number one priority.” 

Lopez and Student Organization Committee Chair Nick Johnson assured that no firearms would be brought on campus and their faculty advisor will travel with the group to monitor safety. 

“I’d like to also recognize that this e-board has put in a lot of work to ensure that they’re communicating with me and my committee so that we’re going about this the right way,” Johnson said.

After a series of questions a call to question was made by Senator Emily Gamache, bringing the questioning to an end. After an 18-16 vote, the motion was passed and the bill was to be voted on. Before the final vote, a recess of five minutes was motioned and approved. Following the recess, the bill 27 votes for, four against and four abstentions, making Rhody Rifle Club a Senate-Recognized organization. 

Following this vote, the open forum section was held, allowing Senators to speak. For the final time this semester the Student Senate adjourned, and it will reconvene in September.