The Student Association Senate will be starting the year with a flurry of meetings, hearings and new legislation aimed at increasing student involvement and activity.
The SA is making an effort to rebuild the credibility of the Senate in the wake of scandals last year that saw senators trade recriminations over the purchase of alcohol with student funds.
“We are acutely aware of the issue,” said SA Executive Vice President Eric Daleo, adding that funding requests must now be approved by the SA’s finance committee. Previously, senators were allowed to request funds without oversight, which allowed Sen. J.P. Blackford (G-SEAS) to purchase $130 of alcohol at Riverside Liquors last year.
In an effort to make Senate procedures more open, Sen. Asher Corson (CCAS-U) introduced a bill Sept. 23 meeting that would replace secret Senate voting with a roll call vote.
Daleo called the concern about secret voting “misdirected attention,” saying that these votes were only used in dealing with “internal personnel matters,” that did not affect student organizations’ budget allocations.
He said that secret votes helped “reduce intimidation” and allowed senators to “vote their conscience.”
Corson’s bill has been delivered to the EVP’s office and awaits assignment to a committee.
The Rules Committee, one of four committees in the Senate, also has plans to reform bylaws governing Senate procedures and regulations.
“There are many inconsistencies in the language of the bylaws,” rules committee chair Chrissy Trotta (CCAS-U) said. “This year we want to change the language and structure of the bylaws to increase efficiency and place responsibility where it’s due.”
“It creates a lot more legitimacy when the body as a whole writes the bylaws, instead of just one person,” she added.
Daleo said the Senate’s priority this year is “getting our message out and giving students more of an opportunity to participate.”
On Sept. 15, Daleo signed an agreement with WRGW General Manager Brett Kaplan that allows the radio station to broadcast the six regular fall 2003 Senate meetings.
The meetings will be digitally recorded and archived, and students will be able to listen to them at http://www.gwradio.com.
Earlier this month, the SA’s executive branch and the Senate held joint information sessions for freshmen interested in getting involved with the SA. Positions available to freshmen include freshman Senate seats, executive branch positions and Senate staff positions.
The Senate and its four committees will be holding various meetings during the next month, all of which are open to the public. On Oct. 7, the Finance Committee will appropriate funds for all registered student organizations.