Three Hour Senate Meeting Discusses Budget and DACA

Senate Nearly Fails to Meet Quorum Mid Meeting

Allie Brennhofer

The three hour Student Senate meeting covered emotional and impactful issues such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA), and the lack of response from the College of Saint Scholastica’s administration. An hour, split over two segments, of the meeting was spent on the $6,671 request from Northern Explorers and discussion of the Senate General Fund budget.

President Jason Chavez brought up DACA towards the end of the meeting, which prompted a half an hour discussion on the matter. Two weeks prior to the meeting, Student Senate had approved to send out a document in support of DACA students on campus. DACA was implemented by the Obama administration to support minors whose parents entered the country illegally and allow them to find work in the U.S.. The Trump administration rescinded the policy this September, with a six month delay allowing Congress to decide how to go about it.

Senate’s document requested administration to acknowledge the DACA students on campus and demonstrate support for them.

“This document is basically a request to President Geary. I have contacted her staff five to six times already, asking for a quote on our previous Senate CSS DACA statement. I got no response … right away,” Chavez said.

Chavez received no other responses from CSS administration in regards to the DACA document.

“The President is allowed to say no and that’s okay. But I think this is when communication comes to play. You can respectfully say no, I don’t want to do this. And that’s fine, I’ll respect that. We can go through other avenues in Senate and tackle that as well. But, saying no would have been fine. But I got no response. Which, I found really rude and disrespectful,” Chavez said.

After some discussion on what the best method would be to get President Geary’s attention and acknowledgment of the document and situation, the Senate voted to approve the document unanimously. One senator voiced concerns of creating tension between Senate and administration.

“I just want to remind everybody here: we do not work for the president of the school, we don’t. We can work with them to make decisions… but we work for the student body. We were elected by the student body and that’s who we work for,” Chavez said.

They decided to hold a meeting during the week to further discuss ways to handle the situation.

Earlier in the meeting, Northern Explorers (NE) requested $6,671 for the Spring Break ski trip they do every year. The figure requested was above Handbook specifications, the amount according to Handbook was $5,124. The Senate debated back and forth on what was fair to allocate.

Much of the discussion stemmed from the fact that the General Fund was at $20,183.83 at the start of the meeting. $10,000 is already being held for next semester, leaving this semester’s fund at $10,183.83.

Senator Ixayana Gonzales questioned how this trip would impact the rest of the student body who would not go on the ski trip, as it seemed to only benefit the twelve students the trip had spots for.

“OP’s budget for the semester was $7,200 and that was budgeted requests. So I personally sort of find it hard to give over $6,000 and that’s a huge amount of money. So I think we should certainly fund the trip but I think we need to have some discussion about how much we’re willing to give,” Financial Vice President Andrew Bailey said.

Senate decided to vote on allocating $5,124 to NE. The vote did not pass, with a 15-10-3 outcome. Internal Affairs Chair Gabe Graves called for a revote, because NE was left with $0 as a result of the vote not passing.

Other senators threw out amounts of $3,000 and $4,000 in an attempt to compromise with Senate’s low budget and the desire to still fund the trip. More discussion prompted Graves to motion to move the NE request down, after the last request and a speaker. That passed, 27-1-0.
After allocating $75 to Native American Student Alliance for beadwork supplies and listening to Melissa Watchke speak about the Center for Equal Access and problems students with disabilities and mental health issues face, both on campus and in other CSS locations.

After Watchke’s presentation, Graves made a motion for a five minute recess. However, six senators left the meeting during the recess, almost causing Senate to not meet their quorum requirements. It is stipulated that two thirds of Senators must be present at meetings in order to be able to vote on anything. Had any more Senators chosen to left the meeting, Senate would not have met quorum and NE would not have been able to have their request voted on.

Two of the senators left for a medical emergency.

With quorum barely met, Senate resumed discussion of the NE request. Some more back and forth resulted in the motion of $4,000 with a stipulation that they can request additional funds in their spring budget if it is not enough. The vote to amend the motion passed unanimously, 22-0-0. A roll call vote was requested for the actual vote. This meant that each senator’s name was called and they responded yes, no, or abstained. This is opposed to the typical anonymous voting done with iClickers. The motion passed, 21-0-1.

After all of the requests were heard and allocated, the General Fund had $15,458.83 left. That leaves $5,458.83 for Fall Semester.

  • Queer Straight Alliance
    $695 for fundraising, group bonding, ice cream social, and a pride event.
    26-2-0 (Each vote respectively)
  • Improv Club
    $225 for advertising, materials, club bonding, and a 56 Nights Event, received $200 because 56 Nights has separate funding
  • Northern Explorers
    $6,671 for their spring break ski trip, received $4,000
  • Native American Student Alliance
    $75 for beadwork supplies