Senate Could Undergo Overhaul
There is a high possibility that the Student Senate as it is known now will appear very differently in future semesters. While nothing is concretely decided, there has been discussion and ideas thrown out about how Senate should be run in the future.
The newly envisioned Senate would have less control over the money generated for clubs by the Student Services Fee. Instead of clubs and organizations coming to Senate whenever they need money, the clubs would need to plan and submit a request for all funds required for the subsequent semester. These requests would go to a board of approximately a dozen various staff members and the President, Vice President, and Financial Vice President of Senate.
“The idea behind this is that Senate will no longer be as focused on finances. And this will free us up to focus on other issues on campus, such as advocating to the administration and making sure student voices are heard and talking about the things that really matter around campus,” Vice President Zach Meikle said.
Senate advisor Marisa Sanderson declined to comment on the potential changes to Senate, adding that nothing has been confirmed yet.
The use of budgeted requests was prevalent before the school year of 2015-2016, but there had still been more of a balance between budgeted and unbudgeted requests.
“We started to do away with budgets because there is a rule in our Financial Handbook that a budgeted item, you can’t come and ask for money for it again. So we had clubs who had budgeted something and they wanted to grow the event … And we couldn’t fund them because they were already budgeted. So we just started having people come in with everything unbudgeted,” Meikle said.
There will still be a small pool of money, amount yet to be determined, that will be available to clubs with small, last minute requests such as asking for money to have food at a meeting. This will likely remain similar to how Senate is run now, where the whole Senate votes on requests.
If things go as planned, the idea is to have next semester be the trial run of this new system. Once it is observed and tweaked as needed, it will be fully put into place next year.
Senate’s purpose, for many people, is tied firmly with money. Perhaps this characteristic is part of what has prompted this discussion.
“Senate doesn’t have an identity. Maybe that’s the problem, maybe the problem is that we are only a method of funding clubs and funding trips and paying for things. Maybe the problem is that we are just a bank,” Meikle said. “But if we lose that part of our identity, then we need to make sure we know what our new role is going to be. The entire student body needs to be made aware of what Senate’s role will be.”
This new system leaves many things unclear, according to Meikle. For example, it is unknown if new clubs created at the beginning of a semester will have access to any money. The same goes for clubs that forget to submit their budget requests on time.