The PSU student senate passed modifications to its bylaws Wednesday that will change the way future business is handled. Senator Cory Murphy submitted the proposal, which most notably creates standing committees to address different issues affecting ASPSU governance and student life.
All business presented to the senate now must pass through one of four committees. According to Murphy, the changes he proposed would “streamline the work we do here in the senate, and make us more responsible to the student body.”
The changes were met with positive responses at Wednesday’s meeting with only several senators voicing concerns. Tyler Warmer, while acknowledging the positive effects the changes would have on the senate, raised questions about the amount of time that the new committee system would take.
“We have so many committees for so few senators. Including the all university committees, the E&CR and the election committee, how are senators going to find the time?” Warmer asked.
Other senators praised the changes for better organizing the business that the senate hears. Elijah Michalowski said the changes would make the senate “a lot more functional.”
“This (proposal) sets forth a clear and concise way in which this body is going to go about doing things,” Michalowski said.
The new committees are senate administration, senate finance, activities and cultural affairs, Academic and administrative affairs and student and community affairs. As issues are brought to the senate, they are first addressed by the committee that deals with that specific issue. The committee then presents the issue to the senate, where action can be taken.
The hope is that this will make the senate more efficient by educating senators before their one-hour weekly meeting, allowing them more time to handle official business.
Senator Demetrius Desyllas asked the senate to sponsor airfare and visa fees to bring a student from Zimbabwe to PSU. The student would be a guest speaker at African night, and according to Desyllas, educate students about life in his native Zimbabwe. The figure estimated by Desyllas was roughly $1,300.
Although not one senator voiced opposition to the idea, the request was met with a storm of red tape. Murphy suggested that the senate would need to co-sponsor Africa Night in order to allocate the funds. Several senators then noted that the senate couldn’t simply put its name on Africa Night; an appeal must be made to the Association of African students. The item was tabled, pending information regarding the potential for cosponsoring African night.
Senator Mark Hinz asked the senate to allocate the balance of its budget to help jump-start Food For Thought, an organic cafe set to open at PSU Sept. 20, 2002. The senate had previously backed Food for Thought, and the SFC allocated $80,000 to it earlier this year. The SFC allocations will not come through for several months, and according to Hinz the start up expenses are current.
The request was met with half-hearted enthusiasm by the senate. Senate president Emily Garrick suggested that some monies might be reserved for the incoming senate, to sponsor a retreat. Senator Keyoshia Vaughn asked for more information, including estimated expenses. “I want to see the numbers,” she said. “I want to see where it is going.”
Determined to make it happen, Hinz suggested Food for Thought borrow senate money against the $80,000 that is to arrive from the SFC. Faculty advisor Sally Eck addressed this proposal, saying that it would be impossible to do from an accounting standpoint. No action was taken on the Hinz proposal.
The meeting concluded with a slide show presentation by Michalowski. Michalowski has been working all year on providing dental care for PSU students.
In his presentation he informed the senate that his committee called over 2,500 telephone numbers and spoke with 375 PSU students in five nights, and that the overwhelming majority are in favor of dental care. According to Michalowski, 75.2 percent of those polled agree or strongly agree with paying an extra $20 per term to have dental be part of the healthcare package. The Senate voted unanimously to support the inception of healthcare at Portland State.