On Tuesday, Jan. 25, the University of Maine General Student Senate held their first meeting for the start of the spring semester, but major flooding forced GSS to relocate.
GSS normally holds their senate meetings in the Bangor Room in the Memorial Union, but flooding in the Bangor Room has forced the GSS to relocate to Neville Hall until the damage can be repaired. According to Lauri Sidelko, the advisor to Student Government, the flooding occurred last week and was due in part to major drops in temperature.
“When it froze last week we lost heat in the Dean’s Office, which is above the Bangor Room, so all of our offices in the Student Life Office flooded and so did everything in the two levels below it,” Sidelko said.
According to Sidelko, the Bangor Room is currently unusable, but UMaine is already working on renovations and are attempting to include technology that would make the room “Zoom-friendly.”
UMSG Vice President, Elizabeth Davis, discussed several initiatives during her executive report that she hopes to continue working on this semester.
“I spoke with the Director of Diversity and Inclusion about [the] Senate and what we can do to be a more inclusive environment,” Davis said. “We should … be making sure that we are involved in all areas of campus and having a presence there.”
Davis also discussed the proposal to add the UMaine Land Acknowledgement to the agenda of weekly senate meetings. During a period of discussion, Senator Ricker raised concerns that he did not seem to understand the point of adding the Land Acknowledgment. The Land Acknowledgement is meant to recognize that the university is located on Marsh Island in the homeland of the Penobscot Nation.
“I think it’s a great initiative and I definitely think we should do… it and it should be followed up with substance and communication with [the Native American Studies Department]. I also want to note that the Faculty Senate does open their meetings with this and I think it is a great thing that we should follow in their footsteps moving forward,” Jacob Chaplin said, the chair of the Fair Election Practices Committee.
After multiple senators expressed their opinions on this proposal, the senate decided to table the discussion of this proposal so the members of the executive committee could take the time to properly lay out the terms and language of the Land Acknowledgement.
Multiple club representatives were also present during the senate meeting, seeking funding or preliminary recognition. A speaker from the Wildlife Society spoke on behalf of the club as they were requesting preliminary recognition.
“We are the student chapter for this university of a national organization known as the Wildlife Society,” President of the Wildlife Society Sean Mullin said. “We are a professional and academic organization dedicated to networking our student body who are either interested in or enrolled in wildlife related courses.”
According to Mullin, they hope this club can provide students interested in this field with job opportunities and help them find volunteer work that would be beneficial to them and the community. After a brief period of questioning, the Senate approved their request for preliminary recognition.
A representative from the UMaine Climbing Club was also present to seek preliminary recognition for his club.
“Climbing Club as an organization does a lot of things, but mainly we are there as a resource to build the climbing community around the school,” Patrick Downing, the president of the Climbing Club, said. “One of our large goals is to build more knowledge about outdoor climbing and start to give back to the local climbing areas in the community through the numbers that we have and volunteer work.”
According to Downing, the club has around 40 members and utilizes the Maine Bound facilities on campus to teach members about climbing safety and help students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to transition from indoor to outdoor climbing. After the senate took a moment for questioning, they approved the request for preliminary recognition. The Climbing Club meets on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Maine Bound for anyone interested in exploring this new club.
After discussing funding allocations to the Women’s Club Softball team and UMaine Cheer, the senate moved into nominations for many chair positions for the start of the semester, which they will be voting on in an upcoming meeting.