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James Bonner addresses General Student Senate

The University of Maine’s General Student Senate was addressed by James Bonner, a class of 1957 graduate, addressing Black History Month and the topic of discrimination during General Good and Welfare speeches. This section allows for non-members to address the senators for a maximum of five minutes. He asked the audience to participate in a “hand exercise”, requesting they close their eyes and grab their hands. He repeatedly asked if they could feel the race on their hands and fingernails.

He went into a detailed account of an incident from his past in which a group of intoxicated males threatened him. He explained it was “a miserable feeling for the color of my skin.” He asked the student government to try to address the problem of discrimination as a whole, to “take my brown hand and see what we can do to make a difference.”

Bonner asked for support at the Black Lives Matter breakfast on Feb. 20 at 8 a.m.

Club Maintenance

The Ewe-Maine Icelandic Sheep Club discussed the positive impact the club has had on the school by providing students hands-on experience with taking care of sheep and other farm animals. They are currently seeking to be officially recognized by the university but are not yet seeking funding.

Gate 33 received final recognition as a university club.

Club Presentations

The Curling Club discussed their recent meets in Belfast, Maine and Bridgeport, Conn. They competed against teams such as Boston University, Harvard and Yale.

The Maine Steiners had a very successful winter break tour, singing in Maine, Massachusetts and New York.

The Muslim Student Association returned from the Islamic Spirit Conference held in Toronto from Dec. 25-27 where the members met many speakers and scholars discussing the restoration of the Islamic faith.

The Men’s Rugby Team competed in the New England Qualifier game beating Tufts University 24-10. They moved on to the Championship Playoff game in Saratoga Springs, NY, where their season came to an end.

Periodic Reports

The University of Maine Student Government (UMSG) representative for the board of trustees, Senator Connor Scott returned from a meeting in Southern Maine. The board discussed the decline in enrollment and revenue in the UMS system, specifically on the Orono campus. Also brought to light was the plan for integrating online classes across all university systems. The hope for the request of $60 million is to put the bulk toward IT. Scott recognized the official change of the spring recess — now being one week with two long weekends instead of two full weeks. This new schedule will align with the rest of the UMS system.

Director of Communications, Mallory Nightingale, discussed working on the new marketing and PR plan — seeking to improve the Student Government’s brand image and diversity. It is crucial that current senators get involved in searching for new members.

New Business

The Senate debated over the LGBTQ Services request for funding for a drag show during Pride Week in April. Wilde Stein President Amy Schmitt predicted over 500 students will attend the $2,500 show. LGBTQ Services is requesting half of the cost — $1,250 — from the student government. Senator Aaron Ortiz expressed concern over the lack of funding on the part of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Services and explained that the student government cannot be “held hostage” by other organizations for money when they have not exhausted their alternatives.

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