The General Student Senate (GSS) tackled a broad spectrum of business at a meeting overshadowed by the resignation of former Student Government President William Pomerleau.
The senate approved a resolution they said will help protect students from Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) harassment. Two additional resolutions passed, one making amendments to the constitution and one to reform the Student Government (UMSG) election process.
The resolution, proposed by Vice President of Student Entertainment Derek Mitchell, will change the method in which the Information Technology Center stores student’s online history. This would restrict the RIAA’s access to data on students using the campus internet.
The RIAA has been pursuing financial settlements with students they allege are guilty of illegally sharing copyrighted materials, usually through file-sharing services like LimeWire.
The senate resolution calls for a change in the university’s data management structure – the manner that the IT Center distributes internet addresses – requesting an alteration in how often a student’s IP address is renewed.
The University of Maine’s current policy supplies students with a single address for an entire academic year, making it possible for the RIAA to subpoena records of student’s online actions, including Web sites visited and files downloaded. Under the new resolution, a student will receive a new IP address periodically throughout the year. Because no records of the IP addresses would be kept, there would be limited information available in the case of a subpoena, which senators said would help to protect students from RIAA prosecution.
“The RIAA’s underhanded tactics have cost students across the country thousands and thousands – potentially millions – of dollars. UMaine needs to act to prevent this from happening to our fellow students,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell described the policies that other institution’s have developed to protect students such as regulations that help to impede the RIAA’s persistent monitoring.
“Other schools change their IP addresses every month, or every single time a student logs in,” Mitchell said.
The resolution received near-unanimous support by the GSS.
“I respect the university protecting the students but I don’t like the idea of [posing] an opposition to the RIAA,” said Sen. James Lyons.
Mitchell said that he did not want to support the idea of copyright infringement, however, he believed that the university owed protection to the students that pay for the internet on campus, through tuition and fees.
Vice President of Student Government, Steve Moran, stated that if the resolution is a way to protect students’ rights, then it was good for Student Government to step in.
“I believe it is a step in the right direction,” Moran said.
Even though the resolution has been adopted into the student senate, it will take several steps before it can be administered as a policy for the university. The resolution, which Mitchell said is feasible, will soon be presented to the appropriate people within the university for discussion and action.
“Overall, the point of the resolution was just to send a message: students need more protection from their university,” Mitchell said.
Also approved in the meeting were two resolutions, both sponsored by Mitchell, to change procedures for campaigns and elections for GSS and SG. Alterations include a change in the amount of student funding allowed per campaign. The resolution also added guidelines for a debate, including the creation of a Debate Committee, consisting of representatives from student media outlets.
The policy for write-in candidates was also changed in the resolution. Previously, candidates seeking write-in status had to file a week before elections. Now, write-in candidates are eligible if they declare up to – and including – the day of the election.
The senate also passed several resolutions allocating funds. Residents on Campus received $8,400, for their annual trip to Quebec, and Alternative Spring Break was given $9,271.05 for their upcoming community service trips. Other groups obtaining funds included: $3,000 to REACH, $1,059.95 to UMaine Day at the Maine Legislature and $320 for postage to send care packages to American soldiers abroad.
Vice President of Financial Affairs, Anh Do, announced the following allocations: $425 to Central America Services Association, $210 to Lambda Pi Eta and $678 to Mock Trial. After all of the allocations the budget was $34,789.58, a change from the Dec. 4 budget of $59,585.88.
The meeting also included the final approval for three organizations becoming officially recognized as university clubs: Fellowship for Christian Athletes, UMaine Cheering and Bear Vocals.