After a year filled with fighting over funding, a botchedelection, and scandals surrounding senator appointments,yesterday’s final student senate meeting before the newly electedgovernment takes power ended with more of a whisper than abang.
Two resolutions were passed: new name plates for senators and anLED Display Screen for ASPSU to display news and events.
Upon taking office last May, ASPSU President Amara Marino saidshe hoped to avoid the disagreements and rifts prevalent in theprevious administration and “be upfront about differences throughopen communication.”
Vice President Joe Johnson shared that sentiment, saying hebelieved it was important to try to build a community.
As the academic year began however, it would prove to be onefilled with controversy for student government.
First, there was the split over the PSU chapter of the OregonState Public Interest and Research Group (OSPIRG), which climaxedin February with the senate’s rejection of the Student FeeCommittee’s entire budget allocation for student groups (the budgetwas later approved).
That chaos was present during a senate meeting in which studentsprotested the dismissal of Senator Caine Lowery, who haddifficulties in January when Marino told him in a letter that shewithdrew his appointment after just thirty days. The JudicialBranch (formerly known as the E&Cr) later ruled that Lowery wasappointed to the senate.
Protestors at this meeting shouted “ASPSU, Get yourself ontrack!”
Most recently, students were concerned about allegations ofsexual harassment against then-senator Golden Ashby. Ashbyeventually resigned, but some complained about the length of timeit took to transpire.
Jenny Sevilla, one of the people who made those charges againstAshby didn’t feel the senate handled the situationappropriately.
“As you saw in the executive session, it wasn’t facilitatedcorrectly,” she said. “I feel that there was a lot of confusion inparts, as far as Joe Johnson goes and the rest of the senators -andwhat exactly is executive session and what do we do in it. So Ifeel that there was a lot of chaos.”
Despite all the tough times, many student government membersstill see the year as a success, and note that some importantthings were accomplished.
“To see so many students come out and state their own opinionsand listen to the issues that are at hand within the student senateis really exciting,” Johnson said.
He believes the attendance of non-senators was definitelyunprecedented and hopes that it continues to grow in the comingyears.
“Every time their was a big hot issue, last year the senatorswould juts yell and scream at each other but this year studentswould come in and voice their opinion, like with the impeachment ofGolden. That was really big,” said Reina Abolofia, who serves aspro-tempore on the senate.
Accomplishments listed in end-of-the-year reports of senate bySenators Abolofia and Shah Smith included passing a resolution insupport of marriage for homosexuals, approval of the StudentRecreation Center Referendum, which placed the $30 millioninitiative on the 2004 student election ballot, and a resolution tosupport efforts to offset the rising price of textbooks.
Beginning May 1, Marino and Johnson will be replaced byPresident and Vice President elect Christy Harper and RyanKlute.
Klute, who will take over Johnson’s position as senate chairnext week, has attended 95% of the student senate meetings over thepast two years and says he’s honored to be a part of thesenate.
Johnson said that believes Klute, and Harper both have theexperience and skills to succeed in their positions.
“Christy is definitely very able and very skilled at what shedoes,” he said, “She cares about the student body and she careseven more about succeeding in her goals to address the issues thatshe talked about throughout elections and throughout hercampaigning.”
He believes Klute also has had a lot of experience with studentgovernment.
“He knows the road that lies ahead of him and I think he’sprepared and I know he’s preparing even more to take on the taskthat the senate will provide him.”
What tasks that will be remain to be seen…