Senate recap: First Senate meeting of 2020 kicks off semester

Excited voices filled the Senate chamber as Student Government representatives milled about preparing for the first Senate meeting of the semester. Among other discussions, a new senator was ratified and sworn in, several campus-wide initiatives were announced by committee representatives, updates on active bills were announced by the speaker pro tempore and a senator’s recommendation was finally passed after struggling to gain traction in the fall.

Jasmine Oritz was ratified and sworn in as the senator for the Frost School of Music.

“The process [of running for Senate], which included an interview and a review process, was really cool to go through,” said Oritz.

Her platform included instituting “increased transparency in which students receive information about their auditions for performance groups and the expansion and renovation of the practice room building.”

Oritz said she saw a major problem in the ratio of music students to the amount of practice space. Among her greatest concerns is the abundance of one credit classes required to graduate. Oritz said those one credit classes “need to be limited because the work needed to succeed in those classes is not reflected in the credits awarded for completing them.” She emphasized “striking a balance” within the Frost School in order to make the course load for its students more manageable.

Of the Senate committee reports, the Public Relations committee and ECO Agency offered notable announcements. The Public Relations committee expressed its current work on a promotional event for the no-smoking policy on campus. No specifics were mentioned, but updates are expected in next week’s meeting.

ECO Agency introduced an initiative to write a bill regarding recycling in frat houses. This would target the hundreds, if not thousands, of discarded bottles and cans every weekend by partygoers. Moving this bill forward will require the cooperation of multiple parties including ECO Agency, the university administration, the Panhellenic representatives and the Fraternity Row representatives.

A fundraiser was announced to raise money within the next couple of weeks for the wildfires in Australia. Follow-up plans are expected from next week’s meeting.

The speaker pro tempore reported the updates on bills passed by the Senate in the fall semester. Of the eight active proposals, six were vetoed by the administration.

Action number 20050, a bill to recommend safety measures in Gusman Hall, was met with a staunch defense of the building’s current compliance with safety regulations. However, it was stated that the building was being remodeled but for aesthetic purposes only.

Action number 20020 was the only successful proposal reported in the meeting, recommending a mobile app for the use of UM’s Safe Ride service. UM students will soon be given more accessibility to this campus safety program.

In open forum, Landon Coles, sophomore class senator scored a big victory when an action he filed was passed by the chamber. Coles insisted on the importance of implementing what he called an “equity and inclusion resolution” which would look for any pre-existing infrastructure for an office of equity and inclusion on campus.

For unmentioned reasons, this initiative had failed to garner majority support in the fall, but Coles said he credits his work with the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs with having “piqued his interest in building a supportive community for people of all shapes, sizes, colors and identities.” Coles emphasized the need for diversity training within the university administration and in the Senate itself.