The rejection of two pieces of legislation at the Student Association Senate meeting Tuesday night sparked concern among senators about the larger role of the Senate and its accountability to the student body.
Bones of contention included the rejection of a bill that would require the Senate Finance Committee to meet every two weeks and a resolution recommending more vegetarian and vegan options on the University’s meal plan.
Some members of the SA said they felt the results of Tuesday’s meeting were indicative of a larger problem in the organization.
“I think sometimes we look at the process and debate so much that sometimes we don’t realize the issues hit home,” undergraduate Sen. Alexis Rice (CSAS) said. “I haven’t seen this body, thus far, make that much of an impact.”
“I see this as a totally dysfunctional institution,” undergraduate Sen. Caity Leu (ESIA) said. “A basic overriding feeling that the SA this year has been really ineffective. I feel no matter what I did, nothing would be accomplished.”
Freshman Sen. Beth Lester said she also is disappointed in some of the things she has witnessed in the SA Senate so far.
“Upperclassmen said to me that the SA Senate doesn’t do anything,” she said. “I told them that it didn’t have to be that way. Now I see why some of the upperclassmen felt that way. It concerns me that two of the people I considered the strongest senators said they are thinking of not being a part of the Senate anymore.”
SA Executive Vice President Jesse Strauss said he feels the Senate is in a “self-destructive mode” and feels it is an “organization running on good intentions.”
“I think a lot of the senators’ missions have gotten muddled,” Strauss said. “It’s become kind of a minimalist Senate. The less passed, the better.
“Some senators only go halfway,” Strauss said. “They come and criticize other’s work but don’t put in the work themselves.”
Lester said despite the Senate’s problems, she is confident in the future of the body.
“The Senate has made some tremendous strides forward this year, and I hope that continues,” Lester said. “We just have to be careful that the student government’s progress doesn’t get bogged down in parliamentary minutia and political maneuvering.
“I think it would be really easy to take (Tuesday night’s) meeting out of context and see the Senate as having insurmountable problems but that’s not the case,” Lester said. “The SA has incredible leadership, both in the Senate branch with Strauss and the executive branch with (SA President) Carrie Potter. It’s just a matter of getting people to work together.”