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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    USG Senate Update: Hope for the Best

    Dear Editor,

    I write to you today with a heavy heart. Despite some wonderful early signs, albeit mixed with some growing pains for the USG Senate. It now seems quite apparent that there is something rotten in the state of the Senate, and I feel it my sad duty to report to you what is going on.

    First, the meeting started with a representative of the University Senate’s ‘Environment Committee’ who made a presentation defending his plan of making the entire University a smoke free zone in the next three years. Instead of informed debate and useful negotiation, the vast majority of Senators who took the floor rambled incoherently, often going on for several minutes before remembering that they were supposed to ask a question.

    While it is important for Senators to show their opinions, even passionately, on issues of interest to them and to their constituents, their behavior was counter productive and will lead to nothing. Senators should have focused on the issues and worked with the representative in order to revise his proposal before it is voted on by the University Senate on October 9th, and instead of doing their job and working to revise the policy, most Senators were merely content to shout and ramble, and in all likelihood this proposal will be adopted without meaningful student consultation as a result.

    Second, the budget revision process for the roughly $300,000 in surplus has already went ahead, and over a hundred thousand has already been allocated. Unfortunately, aside from those who keep a close eye on USG, the vast majority of clubs and organizations on campus have no idea that they can apply for extra money and the lack of proper advertising and publication of the excess funds leads to a process that is less than transparent.

    Third, there is the question of the Senate’s priorities. I find it rather odd that Cheryl Lynch, a concerned student but certainly not a member of the USG Senate, is doing the vast majority of the work on the ‘food co-op’ plan to bring student run food services on campus, while the majority of the Senate’s time and effort is spent on internal procedural matters, leading to unnecessarily heated debate on such issues as the ‘Codification of Laws Act’ and modifications to the ‘Payroll Adjustment Act.’

    While these issues are important, more of the Senate’s time should be spent on proposals that will lead to tangible benefits for students. Finally, it seems as if some Senators are waking up to their responsibilities and are at last gaining the courage to make their own proposals and to question the most outspoken members who control the Senate floor.

    Despite getting dirty looks and often losing votes on their proposals, some Senators finally recognize the need to voice their opinions and to take a critical look on proposals that are often rubber-stamped into law with minimal debate and scrutiny.

    I can only hope that these Senators and others will join ranks and take their duties seriously, and on behalf of my fellow students I hope that they succeed in making the USG Senate an institution that students can be proud of having and can easily list its accomplishments and work to improve student life.

    Respectfully yours, Esam Al-Shareffi

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