Two Student Association senators and the SA vice president formed a new student group to push support for a third freshman senator after a Senate vote for a student referendum on the issue failed.
The students, SA Vice President Josh Singer, sophomore Sen. Eric Daleo (U-CSAS) and sophomore Sen. Dan Moss (U-SBPM) said the freshman class, which is 450 students larger than expected, deserves more representation because of its size. Freshman senators participate in meetings but do not vote.
A measure to let the students vote the issue Dec. 11 failed to garner the necessary two-thirds vote. Fifteen senators voted in favor, six voted against and two senators abstained Nov. 13.
Senators who voted against holding elections said it would cost too much money to hold an election in December separate from the regular March elections. Supporters of the measure said they want elections next month to give freshmen more immediate representation.
“I voted down the referendum because it would cost more money and have less voter turnout in the fall semester than if we did it in conjunction with election in the spring,” said sophomore Sen. Bridget O’Brien (U-CSAS). “I don’t have anything against a third freshman senator. We don’t need to spend more money to get a non-voting senator in a few months sooner.”
Sophomore Sen. Fiona Conroy (U-CSAS), who also voted against the measure, is the only freshman senator from last year on the current Senate. Conroy said another senator would not be useful because of the time it takes to learn about the Senate.
Students formed a group they call Proportional Representation to get backing from 10 percent of the entire student population, about 1,900 students, behind their cause. If they get 1,900 signatures on a petition, they can force a referendum vote in December.
“The issue surrounds the fact that a significant portion of undergraduate students are underrepresented in the Senate,” Daleo said. “It is our job to represent these students properly, and it is not happening.”
“Honestly, I don’t understand why senators would not want to support an extra voice for the freshmen,” Singer said. “They have real issues, and the only way to address them is to have proper representation.”
One of the two freshmen senators, Chris Pope, supports PRN and went to Thurston to get signatures.
“It is only fair that freshmen have equal representation as do the other classes,” Pope said.
“I am a representative of the freshman class, and it’s my duty to inform them that they’re underrepresented,” said the second freshman senator, Drew Sindlinger.
Elliot Beare, a Thurston resident, supports PRN’s efforts.
“If we had more senators, we would have more sway and can get more ideas across,” he said.
Freshman Caitlin McShane originally did not support PRN because she said she did not know the role of the SA. McShane later signed the petition for PRN after her roommate Samantha Ridenour convinced her it was important.
“I signed because sometimes being a freshman, you kind of get cast aside and more senators will give more representation,” Ridenour said.
“Right now, we don’t feel the senate represents the freshmen adequately in places like Mount Vernon or Thurston,” Daleo said. “There are still freshmen living in Thurston study lounges.”