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Senate introduces bill, resolution to increase transparency

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February 25, 2016

9:25 PM

Senators discussed a bill and a resolution aimed at increasing senate transparency during Tuesday night’s meeting, both designed to increase senators’ contact with the student body as a whole.

The move follows previous campaigns, like What Can Your SA Do for You and What Else Can Your SA Do for You, in which senators sought out input from students in front of the Sadler Center.

In order to increase transparency and to promote closer relations between senators and student organizations, Sen. Danny O’Dea ’16 introduced the SA-75 resolution. This resolution pledges that by the end of the semester, senators will participate in a collective 75 club meetings.

“This is something that I brought to the student life committee and the executive committee as well,” O’Dea said. “This is a resolution to increase SA transparency and involvement with organizations on campus. This is in order to hear the concerns of the campus and to market ourselves as representatives of the students.”

Chairman of the Senate Dan Ackerman ’16 assigned the resolution to the student life, policy and outreach committees.

Additionally, senators held a lengthy discussion on the “SA & Chill Act,” a bill which establishes biweekly office hours for students to talk with members of the senate. The bill allocates $380 for refreshments at these events. Sen. Quetzabel Benavides ’16 introduced this bill at last week’s meeting.

“The purpose of this bill is to allow a space for students to speak with Student Assembly members about their concerns on campus,” Benavides said. “Tonight the SA-75 bill was introduced and this bill would create a space for if and when that bill gets passed for students to speak with us. It increases communication between us and the student body.”

“I think that a big theme this year has been transparency,” Sen. Eboni Brown ’17 said. “It has been making sure that the community understands what we do and really being ears and putting forth the effort, which is something we are just now starting to do. I am looking forward to doing that. If we really want to make the SA transparent and make sure we are voices for our community, we need more bills like this.”

Although the details of this plan have not been finalized, Pinkerton suggested that holding these office hours twice a month would mean four weeks of office hours total before the end of the semester. Each senator would be expected to attend at least one week’s session.

Some disagreement arose in senator discussion over issues like how to schedule the office hours efficiently, and whether these office hours would be beneficial. Some senators, like Benavides, thought that it would be better to hold office hours at a variety of times so as to give as many students as possible access. Others, such as Sen. Seth Opoku-Yeboah ’16, suggested that it would be easier to hold them at a consistent time.

Another concern over this bill was that it was not applicable to graduate school students, because potential times for office hours would not include consideration of their schedules. Class of 2019 President Jonah Yesowitz ’19 suggested an amendment that would create weekly office hours but then withdrew it, as it was the general consensus that twice a month was a more realistic and less costly option.

After this discussion, senators passed this bill through a roll call vote. Opoku-Yeboah, Sen. Daniel Sequeira ’17 and both law school representatives abstained from voting.

“I think that a big theme this year has been transparency,” Sen. Eboni Brown ’17 said. “It has been making sure that the community understands what we do and really being ears and putting forth the effort, which is something we are just now starting to do. I am looking forward to doing that. If we really want to make the SA transparent and make sure we are voices for our community, we need more bills like this.”

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About Author

Sarah Smith

News Editor Sarah Smith '19 is an undeclared major from Ashburn, VA. She formerly served as Associate News Editor.