The General Student Senate (GSS) gathered on Dec. 5 for their last assembly of the fall 2023 semester. During the meeting, University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy visited the GSS, Student Leader Scholarship winners were announced and motions of funding were passed for seven clubs and organizations.
Thrive is an organization on campus composed of various Christian groups. Its primary focus is on experiential learning. Currently, they have 12 members and do not anticipate a need for funding in the future. Affiliates of Thrive addressed the senate, seeking preliminary recognition, and it was granted.
Warhammer Club is a special interest organization. The students enjoy participating in the tabletop game, similar to Magic the Gathering. They currently have ten consistent members, with about 20 in total. Ian Reid requested preliminary recognition on the club’s behalf. He mentioned that Warhammer Club may request between $100 and $200 of funding per semester to collect game pieces. The club was granted the recognition.
Vice President for Student Leadership Jacob Chaplin introduced five accomplished Student Leader Scholarship recipients. There were over 100 applications taken into consideration for this award, which exceeds the number of submissions received in the previous three years combined.
“This is an annual scholarship we have been running since 2003, and this year, we were able to award five scholarships. These individuals are chosen based on their merit as undergraduate student leaders…The applications were first narrowed down to about 30 that Cabinet then worked diligently through to select these five recipients,” said Chaplin.
The first was the Maine state officer for the National Student Speech Hearing and Language Association, Elizabeth Walker. President of the Black Bear Beekeepers Kalina Kinyon and Josh Watson, a fourth-year ROTC member, were also recipients. The fourth winner was the President of All Maine Women and Vice President of the Senior Class Council, Abby Cadorette. The final winner was Balance Man Scholarship President and President of SigEp John McLaughlin.
The senate welcomed Ferrini-Mundy to say a few words and share a slideshow about leadership.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to first congratulate you for the great work you do as members of this body, for the extraordinary professional approach that you take to this work. I’ve never visited one of these meetings, and I am thrilled to be here. It could be a model for many other kinds of meetings that we have on the campus,” Ferrini-Mundy said.
She expressed how it is imperative for the leaders of any institution to engage themselves in a wide range of topics. For example, Ferrini-Mundy referenced her personal learning pursuits in current subjects, such as the impact of climate change in Maine and the effect of artificial intelligence on higher education and construction projects on campus.
“I hope you find this notion of constantly needing to learn something rewarding and fulfilling and that you can find ways here, as students at the University of Maine, to make that a part of what you do. It just keeps going. At least, that’s what I’ve found, and when it stops is when I’ve found myself discouraged,” said Ferrini-Mundy.
Student Body President Michael Delorge reported a series of updates. Delorge joined with Board of Trustees Chair Trish Riley to discuss different measures for increasing student connection to the board and its decision-making process. The next two meetings will be held on campus and covered by The Maine Campus Newspaper.
Delorge also announced that after meeting with Dr. Ferrini-Mundy’s Chief of Staff Diane Dunn, it was decided that student symposium funding will not need to be taken from the student activity fee this spring.
Delorge also went through several successes of the student senate throughout this semester. Tier funding has been adjusted for club sports, and more information about the Maine event concert series will soon be released. Furthermore, the UMSG weekly newsletter, which is sent via email, receives about 5,000 to 6,000 opens by students each week. The GSS senator election period has been extended from one day to five. Also, money has been put forth to restore the swingset on campus.
Vice President Keegan Tripp produced a final draft of the UMSG handbook to be distributed across the senate and to various organization leaders to educate new members and provide governmental clarity throughout UMaine.
A resolution sent out on behalf of the Senate encourages UMaine to display the Penobscot Nation flag indefinitely. As of now, it is only raised one day throughout the entire academic year.
“In our meeting earlier today with the President Chief of Staff Diane Dunn, she asked to set up a meeting with myself, Representative [Jon] Guzman and Senator [Meredyth] Waters to discuss the next steps for the Penobscot flag resolution. I will be reaching out to those individuals to get that going,” said Tripp.
Tripp also reminded that as of adjournment, all senate seats fall vacant. GSS members must fill out their papers again to be re-elected. Students seeking involvement can contact Jacob Chaplin (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information. Chairships and committee assignments are also open until the election, which will be held on Jan. 23. Applications are available in the UMSG offices at the Wade Center of the Memorial Union.
“My personal goal is to make sure that next semester, our executive team is ready to take on another year of advocacy and getting things done, such as the stuff we’ve done this year. That effort starts now, and that starts with you guys,” Tripp said.
UMaine Board of Trustees Student Representative Ben Doherty shared he will be stepping down from the position. He also announced that undergraduate student Andrew Bennet will be appointed to the board as a member for a two-year term, with Haden Buzzell as the alternate. Nolan Merz will be assuming the graduate student membership position.
Franco-American Resource Opportunity Group requested $1,500 to cover hotel fees for their trip to Montreal on Feb. 16. The motion passed.
Black Bear Catholic requested $5,000 be allocated toward registration, hotel and airfare costs for members to attend SEEK 24, a fellowship of Catholic university students conference, on Jan. 1-5. The motion passed.
Nursing International requested $9,500 to access travel visas, insurance and airfare for volunteer efforts in Tanzania, Africa, from May 7 until May 21. The motion passed.
3D Printing Club requested $1,994.22 to purchase a V-Core 3.1 3D printer and rot-rig enclosure. The motion passed.
Men’s Club Ice Hockey requested $3,375 be allocated towards practice ice fees, home game fees and ice time at Alfond Arena for the 2024 spring semester. Similarly, Club Figure Skating requested $3,450 for ice time and club practices at the arena to pay for 30 hours worth of time at the rink. Both motions passed.
Finally, the UMSG Student Leadership Division requested $2,235 for merchandise, including phone wallets, stadium cups, ice scrapers and grocery tote bags to advertise GSS and recruit new members in the spring 2023 semester. The motion passed.