On Tuesday, Oct. 5, the General Student Senate returned to the Bangor room in the Memorial Union as they discussed a new funding resolution and preliminary recognition to multiple clubs.
This return to in-person meetings follows a COVID-19 scare the senate faced the previous week. After following COVID-19 safety guidelines, all members were able to return to meetings.
“We are doing very well in terms of active [COVID-19] cases, as of Sept. 27, we had 39 active cases. I think I spoke with UNH over the weekend and they said that they have like 50-something, so we are doing really well in the northeast,” said the President of the General Student Senate, Zachary Wiles.
The meeting opened with club maintenance regarding two clubs looking to receive preliminary recognition.
The club Circle K was looking to receive preliminary recognition due to inactivity. Maxwell Rich, secretary of Circle K spoke on behalf of the club.
“Circle K International, specifically, is a community service organization, specifically collegiate. We try to create fundraising and events that can help commit service for our members and just around the world, whether it’s stuff with mental health, childhood development, homelessness and food insecurity,” said Rich.
The collegiate branch of the Kiwanis International family, CKI, is a service organization that offers unique service and leadership opportunities. According to Rich, the club currently has around 15-20 members.
After a unanimous decision, the senate moved to give preliminary recognition to Circle K.
It was also a successful night for the American Sign Language Club who was seeking recognition as well.
The President of the American Sign Language club, Megan Oehler, spoke on behalf of the club.
“Our purpose here on campus is to spread awareness about deaf history and culture, and also the language itself,” said Oehler.
Frank Kelly, vice president of financial affairs of the General Student Senate, asked about the quality and quantity of the current American Sign Language courses offered by the university.
“I would say the quality is very high. It would get really nitty-gritty into the structure and grammar of ASL but this club is more for people if they don’t necessarily have time or are just interested,” said Oehler.
Vice President Kelly believes this club is a great addition to the campus experience.
“I think our campus should be as open and inclusive as possible and this organization stands to better that, so I wish them all the luck and I think we should recognize them,” said Kelly.
After a clear majority vote, the senate voted to recognize the club.
A heavy topic of the meeting became how the senate would move forward in funding apparel for student organizations.
The Executive Budget Committee proposed to the senate that the initial method of funding apparel be amended.
Originally, there was a stipulation in place that only t-shirts would be considered for additional funding from the senate, and required a University of Maine Student Government logo on the front.
The new resolution states that they are changing that to include any apparel, not just t-shirts, with EBC approval. The resolution states, “In the case of shirts, the entire backside must be taken up by a UMSG logo.” This change in policy sparked a debate amongst the senate.
“We have a long history of races that are big fundraisers, and in order to put them on they get funding from lots of different sources and student government has been a part of those for many years,” said Lauri Didelko, advisor to the General Student Senate. “I would hate to see that somebody couldn’t do something like that or would be limited on that because the financial policy would put you in a place where you couldn’t contribute to some really good fundraising types of things,” said Sidelko.
Her concern comes from the idea that this would limit funding for clubs that receive funding from other sponsors. Vice President Kelly spoke on this issue.
“This is for apparel that is going to club members and leaving with them,” said Kelly. He said that apparel for fundraisers such as a racing event would be considered differently, but could still be partially sponsored by EBC and GSS.
Others also expressed their concerns about the change to this resolution.
“I have some concerns about only sponsoring apparel that has the words UMaine student government on it. I understand the idea that we’re not supposed to be giving out apparel so much but at the same time I feel like that should at least be an option, so I have my doubts about this one,” said Senator Fishbang.
President Wiles clarified that it has always been this way, all the resolution is doing is changing the location of the logo.
“It used to be the upper left chest. I will say, as a point of debate, I do think that only allowing the logo to be on the back is kind of limiting, you might want to think of just amending the resolution to have it so the logo can be on the shirt as long as it’s plainly visible,” said President Wiles.
Vice President of Financial Affairs, Frank Kelly, expressed that apparel is very difficult to outline in financial policies. “One group might come in and ask for fanny packs, another group might ask for lanyards, a third could ask for t-shirts and trying to outline those is just impossible,” said Kelly.
Kelly also explained that in the previous year they ran into issues with clubs putting the UMSG logo on the apparel, but making it barely visible. “That’s something we’re trying to avoid in the future,” said Kelly.
The student government is funded by the activity fee provided by the students, so there were concerns that this new resolution would be a turn-off to students and their organizations.
“We also are representing the students and I don’t know how students would feel, for example, if say the service projects don’t get their own jackets or they feel like they don’t get their own thing that says they did this, and it feels instead like it is a UMaine student government thing,” said Senator Fishbang.
There was a motion made to end the debate and move directly to a vote. After a vote, this resolution did not pass and was sent back to the Executive Budget Committee in which they will need to make a new resolution and then try to present it again to the Senate at a future date.
The senate meeting ended with a vote to appoint four senators to the Executive Budget Committee. Those elected included Senator Connor Bray, Senator Meredith Mitchell, Senator Michael Delorge and Senator Paige Allen.