Senate hears student petitions

The 46th Student Senate held its first meeting this past Tuesday. Newly elected Grand Marshal Marcus Flowers began the meeting by recommending Keegan Caraway ’18 and Joshua Rosenfeld ’16 be appointed as secretary and parliamentarian, respectively. The Senate approved Caraway 14-0-2 and approved Rosenfeld 16-0-0.

Most of the Senate’s business this week was related to petitions that have recently gained the required 250 signatures. The first such petition was the American Sniper petition, which wanted to allow UPAC Cinema to show the film American Sniper. Since the sponsor of the petition removed his or her signature, there was no presentation. Justin Etzine ’18 and graduate student Jen Church both felt that the petition was unnecessary, since American Sniper was shown last weekend. The senators voted 14-0-2, supporting the intent of the petition.

The next petition was the Give Us Our Jar Lids petition, which, as the name implies, aims to get lids for the Mason jars given out during Grand Marshal Week 2015. Michael Han ’16 motioned to amend the motion to charge the GM Week committee with investigating a possible solution. Paul Ilori ’17 was opposed to this change, saying that the GM Week committee is a subcommittee of Rules and Elections, which is effectively dissolved. Etzine said that it would be good to broaden the scope of each petition to prevent similar incidents from occurring again. He also suggested it might be good to have some preemptive steps to prevent future dissatisfaction, such as having the E-Board or Senate preview the mugs beforehand. Graduate student Spencer Scott warned against micromanaging the GM Week Committee, and Ilori pointed out that it is an open committee, so, if students want change, they should join it. Ilori also said that he looked into buying lids for the run-off of the President of the Union race, but was unable to find 3,000 jarless lids in the Capital District region in only three days. The Senate then passed the amendment 7-5-4 and the entire motion 9-5-2.

The final petition pertained to bringing fruits, vegetables, and other healthy food options to Father’s Marketplace and was presented by Etzine. He said that he would like to see more healthy options brought to the Rensselaer Union, and that Father’s would be the ideal first location. Josh D’Amato ’18 asked why the petition was also not aimed at expanding healthy food to the dining halls. Etzine responded, saying that sometimes students don’t have time to eat at the dining hall or that many students don’t have a meal plan to eat at the dining halls. Joe Venusto ’17 motioned to amend the motion to charge both the Hospitality Services Advisory Committee and the Union E-Board Business Operations Committee with further investigation. This change was deemed friendly, and the entire motion passed 17-0-0.

The meeting closed with committee reports, however most of the committees are currently inactive. Ilori, on behalf of R&E, wanted to re-emphasize that it was difficult to get jar lids in time for the run-off election and that the next R&E committee would likely not discuss the matter. This concluded the first meeting of the 46th Senate.