GSS discusses Board of Trustees meeting

Club Maintenance

The UMaine Entrepreneurship Club was granted final recognition this week. Founded last year, the club is notable for hosting a UMaine hackathon, as well as competing in the America East Hackathon. They plan on building a hacker space in the Memorial Union, to serve as a hub where students of all backgrounds can get together to work on personal, school or business projects.

Club Presentations

The Muslim Student Association presented a slideshow of their attendance of the Reviving the Islamic Spirit Conference in Toronto on Dec. 22-26. Total attendance was roughly 25-30,000 and featured many Muslim speakers and scholars

The Technical Association of the Pulp & Paper Industry/Paper Industry Management Association reported on the TAPPI/PIMA Summit Conference in Cincinnati on Jan. 13, where they had the opportunity to communicate and work with paper industry professionals, learn the proper etiquette for a business dinner and discuss ideas to keep chapters going.

Executive Reports

Last Wednesday, President Kevin Bois determined the four scholarships that will be given out to campus leaders. The announcements will be made this week. He has been hard at work with Vice President, Jared Dumas, to complete the ice rink, but construction has not been going as smoothly as planned. He met with Dean Dana and President Hunter last week to give an update on plans.

Vice President Dumas gave a reminder about last week’s weather cancellation, hoping everyone was safe.

Vice President for Financial Affairs, Robert Begin, reported $224,511.64 in unallocated funds.

Vice President for Student Organizations, Jacob Johnson, reported the success of the Spring Organization’s Fair and is getting feedback to improve for the future. He is also working on getting skate-able ice for the ice rink currently in construction.

Vice President for Student Entertainment, Isaiah Mansour, is in the process of selecting an outdoor lot to serve as the venue for the spring concert. Further details in the coming weeks.

Periodic Reports

The University of Maine Board of Trustees Representative Samuel Borer had three days of information to relay from the Academic and Student Affairs Committee on Jan. 23 and the Board of Trustees Meeting on Jan. 29-30.

First came working out the details of a system-wide update of veteran’s services in accordance to an update of the public law, “An Act to Improve Delivery of Services and Benefits to Maine’s Veterans and Provide Tuition Assistance to Members of the Maine National Guard.” This includes “a designated office to help with certification, financial aid, and support…A place to connect with other veterans (possibly a veteran’s club)…separate programming specific to the needs of student veterans…[and] transfer credit hours for past military training and experience.”

Second, the UMS has joined with the Maine Nursing Action Coalition to develop initiatives in response to the statewide nursing shortage, caused at least in part by an aging nursing workforce, with 48 percent of nursing faculty above 51 years old and the demand for reliable health care as 8,000 baby boomers retire every day in the United States.

A subcommittee formed in November to review UMS policies to ensure the health and safety of students in a changing political climate concluded that the policies were scattered and in need of revision. For example, UMS policy on Freedom of Speech had not been amended since 1974. Writing or amending policies to include strong definitions of “academic freedom, free inquiry, freedom of speech, and civility” will be a must for the future.

What followed was discussion of the use of the financial package from the State Legislature and Governor, which was admittedly less than what the board had hoped for. The board is putting an emphasis on academic affairs. The UMS is working on single budget to decrease headaches, a unified online initiative and tackling relevant academic programming. The Provost’s Council and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs James H. Page will have retreat in March to further discuss methods of identifying “programs of concern.” VCAA is also working with Faculty Senates to discuss how to expedite program approval processes.

The board hopes to work with the legislature and the government toward a state appropriation increase, which has only increased by two percent over the past decade. Many bills during this session will directly affect UMaine, a bill “allowing guns on campus” among them.

Details of the governor’s supplemental budget proposal were described; as UM kept tuition at a flat rate as planned, they were granted $4.65 million; $2 million to support early college initiatives, $550,000 for a pre-law undergraduate scholars program as a grant for Maine Law from the national program, targeting first and second years, specifically targeting minorities and rural students to become legal authorities and $400,000 for the Cooperative Extensions’ Plant, Animal, and Insect Laboratory.

The governor’s biennial budget for the ‘18-19 fiscal year was considered radical, meant to advance policy agendas and not quite as generous as hoped. The board hopes legislators will add more to the budget, but seem to be counting their blessings, saying “flat is the new up.”

The board met with Director of Labor Relations, Mark Schmelz. By law, student reps must take part in collective bargaining process. UMS is beginning to renegotiate two year contracts of UMS employees this week. Senator Borer plans to meet with him at future board meetings to discuss the process.

The final issue pertains to University of Maine Machias (UMM), which has been struggling for the past few years with recruitment dropping by more than half and 66 full time faculty and staff members running the entire institution. Chancellor James Page does not plan to close any of the seven UMaine campuses and to avoid being forced to do so, the UM – UMM Primary Partnership Committee was developed to address the issue. The proposed solution is for UMM to become a regional campus of UM Orono, essentially absorbing UMM into UM. They would continue to offer four-year degree programs, but with expanded collaboration with UM. The UMM president will be succeeded by an Executive Dean under to Pres. Hunter and will serve on UM’s cabinet and councils. This is the biggest point of contention.

This proposal, if passed, would not change UMM’s mission, diplomas, transcripts, sports or campus based activities. Board of Trustees will vote on the partnership on March 27. If passed, UMM would become a regional campus of UM on July 1.

Student Legal Services Liaison, Mary-Celeste Floreani, reported that Sean O’Mara has a high case load at this time and would have more to talk about “in an executive session, if possible.”

The Army ROTC sent eight members to a winter survival course this past weekend. They will be conducting a joint training session with UNH in late April. UMaine was also awarded the MacArthur award, being named the top institution in the northeast for training cadets, as well as top eight in the country.

Reports of Standing Committees

The next Services meeting will be held Feb 9. at York dining. The agenda is currently slim.

Reports of Special Committees

The UMS/Student Government Association Conference Planning Committee met on Friday, with poor attendance, but plans are reportedly going smoothly, having set tentative dates on either April 21-22 or 29-30.

Representative Board Reports

Honors College Student Advisory Board Representative, Christopher Gilbert, announced that Senator Brown will serve as the new board representative in his place. The board is currently planning to have a meal packing event on Maine Day, and breaking the record they set on their packing day on Martin Luther King Jr. Day with 41,000 meals.

The Panhellenic Council plans to have a speaker from Spruce Run join their meeting on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. to discuss domestic violence and abuse.

Community Association Reports

The Student Heritage Alliance Council had their first meeting on Monday, having inducted three new organizations under their umbrella. They plan to induct more over the next year. Plans for Black History Month were briefly mentioned, primarily the raising of the Black Lives Matter flag at the Memorial Union, as well as a multicultural mosaic. Further details in the coming weeks.

The Student Women’s Association welcomed new members this week and will man a table in the Memorial Union to sell tickets to their Vagina Monologues production at the Cyrus Pavilion Theatre on Feb. 9 and 10. Their petition for the creation of the Women’s Resource Center is being passed around campus and with frequent meetings with Dean Dana, they hope to have the center up and running by the end of the semester.

Wilde Stein is planning an event for Valentine’s Day, though details are currently in the works.

Consent Agenda

The senate passed a motion to grant $200 to Active Minds for their office budget.

Unfinished Business

$700 was allocated to the American Marketing Association for their upcoming etiquette dinner. The request was originally for $1,000, but as other sources of funding were acquired, the representatives requested that the amount be amended. They originally planned to hold the dinner on Feb. 23, but are considering holding off until after spring break.

Nominations/Elections

Though previously nominated for varying positions, Senators Simpson, Brown and Ahmady were not present. Senator Brown rescinded all his nominations, while Senator Ahmady left the senate due to personal reasons. Most positions were elected by all other nominees rescinding until one nominee remained.

Senator Mahmoud was elected Faculty Senate Representative.

Senator Maffucci was elected Legal Services Liaison.

Senator Andersen was elected Membership Representative, but requested someone interested in having the position in the future to serve as co-representative.

Senator Haverly-Johndro was elected Political Activism Representative.

Senator Floreani was elected as the representative for Services and Policy & Procedure.

Senator Bradshaw was elected as liaison for both the Orono Town Council and Old Town City Council.

Senator Simpson was elected Sergeant at Arms.

The senate moved to an executive session from 7:45 – 8:03 p.m., regarding two issues pertaining to senators and employees.

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