The University of Maine General Student Senate passed an act to recommend an increase of the UMaine undergraduate student activity fee from $45 to $50 per semester to the UMaine board of trustees, voted in favor of allocating funds to the division of student organizations for a year-long stimulus recognition system to reward successful and progressive clubs, and also appointed its 35th and final senate seat during its Sept. 25 meeting in the Memorial Union’s Bangor Room.
The resolution of the act to recommend an increase of the undergraduate student activity fee to the UMaine board of trustees, which must be approved of by the board before anything happens, states, “given inflation and increased monetary requests of University of Maine Student Government Inc. an increase in activity fee will further enhance student life on campus.”
According to the resolution, an increased activity fee would improve areas, including student entertainment programming; funding for frequent community-based initiatives on campus; more adequate funding toward clubs, boards, organizations and community associations on campus; and “further enrich[ing] the student experience and the breadth and depth of the scope of their mission.”
The increase alone could raise student entertainment’s budget by $12,000, making way for bigger and better shows here on campus. Vice President Helmke reminded the student body that this act could help avoid situations, such as “when a club works hard and comes to us at the end of the year and we can’t help them [due to a lack of funds].”
Vice President for Student Organizations Sarah Porter spoke on behalf of the act to add an incentive program to better promote club and organization progress and advancement. The resolution states a total of $2,800 will be used for “Clubs of the Month” and “Club of the Year” by division awards. The act passed, but not after more than 30 minutes of debate amongst members of the senate, highlighted by the most popular argumentative response from the body: “We shouldn’t be ‘giving away’ this money.”
UMSG, Inc.’s Division of Student Organizations will now award $100 to each Club of the Month winner from September to March, totaling $700; $200 per each eight divisions’ Club of the Year, totaling $1,600; and $500 to the overall Club of the Year. Clubs will only be allowed to spend award money on — office expenses, advertising and correspondence expenses, equipment and on-campus events.
Second-year undergraduate student Jake Dumas was sworn-in as the 35th member of the GSS at the beginning of the meeting, thus satisfying the body’s full capacity. A waiting list has been introduced to aid in any possible replacement periods the senate may experience if one of their 35 members is forced to leave his/her seat for any reason.
The financial policies of UMSG, Inc. were updated, following a unanimous executive budgetary committee report and no objection in the GSS. In the act, which states the update “will bring the Financial Policies up to date with current precedents,” three amendments were included. The first states that any club cannot request over $1,000 outside of their budget without sending either their president or treasurer to personally address the EBC and GSS. The second and third both discontinue allocated monies spending for parking or tolls and apparel that will not stay within the organization.
An act was passed to amend the standing rules of the UMSG, Inc. and GSS to allow for the creation of a new position: Representative to the Graduate Student Senate. According to the GSS, the two bodies currently lack a clear line of communication in regards to initiatives and activities planned and executed by each body and this act would “increase cooperation.”
Both the Deaf Culture Club and Adventist Christian Fellowship club were granted preliminary recognition from the GSS.
The Deaf Culture Club’s purpose is to “educate the public and to help those who are interested in exploring deaf culture, including sign language, current events, and history.” Club president Paige Pendarvis spoke on behalf of the new organization. The group has not decided on a meeting day, time and location.
The Adventist Christian Fellowship’s purpose is to “build Christian fellowship as a chapter of ACF that honors God and nurtures the spiritual lives of students at the University of Maine.” Club president Michael Brown spoke on behalf of the new organization.
In other new business, two groups, the Equestrian Team and the International Affairs Association, were awarded allocated funds of $1,950 and $2,300, respectively.
The Equestrian Team’s vice president spoke on behalf over the group, stating the group raises around $4,000 to $5,000 a year on their own. EBC’s report was 6-1-0 ought to pass before being passed by the GSS.
International Affairs Association president Justin Lynch spoke on behalf of his group’s motives to attend five Model U.N. conferences this year. EBC’s report was 8-0-0 ought to pass before being passed by the GSS.
In executive reports, President Protzmann stressed the importance of senators relaying student concerns back to GSS meetings once again, stating UMSG, Inc. and GSS need to “be the stewards of change this university needs.” Protzmann said he and UMSG, Inc. Director of Communications Sen. Ferguson are collaborating ideas to create a new senate logo. Also, Protzmann stated that Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Robert Dana has $10,000 set aside for grants up to $1,000 aimed at students looking to pursue projects to benefit the university.
After receiving emails from both Dana and Student Affairs, Vice President Helmke is bouncing around ideas of implementing a program that educates students about the candidates in the upcoming election. Also, Helmke reiterated his plans to restart the Old Town taxi voucher program that former Vice President Caleb Rosser initiated last year.
Porter reminded the body that the organizations conference is on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 3:30 p.m. in the Donald P. Corbett Business Building. Porter also hinted at a new alternative to FirstClass that would likely be replacing the collaborative client software sooner rather than later.
In periodic reports, Representative to the Board of Trustees, Sen. Buttarazzi spoke upon the board’s latest meeting held at the University of Southern Maine in Portland last week. Buttarazzi said there was plenty of discussion and disagreement on the collective bargaining agreement, but speaking about it was as far as the board went. Buttarazzi also said plans for a Bennett Hall elevator system, to provide easier access for those who are physically impaired, is still in the works.
Sen. Robert “Jackson” Pineau, representative to the faculty senate, went to the faculty senate’s first meeting on Sept. 26. Pineau said members are in the process of enacting a plan to install cameras inside Raymond H. Fogler Library, with the hope that it would reduce incidences of graffiti tagging. Also, Pineau said UMaine President Paul Ferguson will soon implement phase one of the Blue Sky Plan, the university’s new five-year strategic plan.
The election timetables for both executive and GSS positions were released. Nomination forms are already available in the Student Government office and campaigning has officially begun. All nomination forms are due to the Student Government office on Oct. 4 by 12 p.m. There will be candidate meetings in the Wade Center on Oct. 11, followed by a debate for executive candidates on Oct. 15. Election day will be held on Oct. 25 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on FirstClass.
For those confused by how seats are filled temporarily before election time in October, President Protzmann explained: “Basically, the way we left off last semester was [former President] Anthony Ortiz was a senior when he ran [for president during] the fall elections for 2011-2012 year. His term would have ended this December, but given he was a senior and obviously graduating, his position must be filled. The order of senate basically folds to the [president] pro temp[ore] who’s third-in-line in succession behind VP. We had a special election for [president] pro temp[ore]. Myself and Sen. Mark Brunton both ran for it, and I won that election. Essentially, my term is until December, fulfilling the rest of Anthony’s tenure.”