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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Encouraging First Meeting of the Semester

    On Tuesday, Jan. 31, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Senate convened for its first meeting of the Spring 2007 semester.

    While opening remarks by Senator Esam Al-Shareffi aimed to push Senators to continue to build upon the success of the P.A.S.S. and Alert programs from the previous semester, much of the meeting was devoted to organizational issues resulting in some contentious debates. Al-Shareffi also addressed the need for more programs like P.A.S.S. and Alert for the student body to recognize the role of the USG in directly affecting campus life.

    Among the items on the agenda, the Budget Process Act, enacted at the meeting, made official the mandatory workshops for clubs and organizations wishing to remain funded by the USG for the 2007-2008 academic year. These mandatory workshops are already being held, with dates of Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 7:00 pm in Javits 105, Thursday, Feb. 1 at 7:00 pm in Javits 105, and Friday, Feb. 2 at 3:30pm in SAC 306.

    Some questions about the Budget Process Act were raised by Senator Diana Etienne, representing the Residence Hall Association (RHA), on the implementation of the Budget Process Act, giving clubs and organizations short notice for these budget workshops.

    Any motion to rehash the timings of the mandatory workshops was, however, quelled by Senators Robert Romano and Shapiro.

    Shapiro noted, ‘We’re trying to help, not hurt the clubs.’

    Student Activities Board (SAB) members were also present at the meeting to speak on their own behalf. The Senate has proposed the USG Activities Board By-Laws Act, which according to the text of the proposed legislation, aims ‘to reform the Student Activities Board and make it more efficient, transparent and responsive to the needs of the Undergraduate Student Body.’

    In the body of the USG Activities Board By-Laws Act, several violations of SAB by-laws were cited, calling for a dissolving of the SAB, reevaluation of the overall structure of the board, the responsibilities designated to the members of the board, followed by the reestablishment of the SAB in a new name, the Undergraduate Student Government Activities Board.

    While a motion on the USG Activities Board By-Laws Act was postponed until next week’s meeting, the violations cited by the Act were addressed by the SAB members present at the meeting. Members of the Senate wished to be more deliberate with their decisions, citing that they would meet with SAB members later this week to further’ discuss’ the extent of the violations and ways to move forward.

    Organizational issues, which constituted most of the meeting, included a fierce debate on the proposed amendments to the Clarification in Employment act, spearheaded by Shapiro and aimed at limiting and distributing the aids who currently serve the USG President Romual Jean-Baptiste. The amendments, which would allow for no more than one aid to each Executive Council member for a maximum of 15 hours per week, were not passed.

    The debate on amendments to the Clarification in Employment Act lasted for about 30 minutes. Comments were made by a number of senators, as well as Jean-Baptiste and a number of his aids. While the motion to amend the Clarification in Employment Act was voted down, several senators stated the need for a more detailed evaluation of the responsibilities of each aid.

    Shapiro defended his rationale in proposing these amendments. He stated, ‘We need to find aids after we define their responsibilities, not the other way around.’

    The meeting ended with several senators commenting on the need for improved communication.

    Senator Jonathan Hirst commented, ‘We need to fight for issues that we feel are important for the student population.’

    Issues to be discussed at future USG Senate meetings include mandatory student meal plans and the legality of religious clubs purchasing religious texts with USG money.

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