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GSS members seated around long table.

Seven prominent speakers are set to address the Senate this semester

Important updates were given at the University of Maine Student Government (UMSG) meeting on Feb. 13. Estabrooke Hall renovations are seemingly set in stone. The guest speaker series line-up was announced and several student-serving initiatives are being enacted.

Executive reports:

Student Body President Michael Delorge attended the first mental health task force meeting over Zoom. Those involved plan to separate into teams to reach preset goals.  

Delorge, CFO Kelly Sparks, Dean Dana, Head of Auxiliary Services Dick Young and various senators convened on the afternoon of Feb. 13 to speak about Estabrook Hall and Sodexo.

According to Delorge, it is “likely a done deal” that Estabrook will no longer house students as the space will be converted into offices. Plans include renovating Hancock and Stodder Halls into dormitories with rooms similar to what is currently in Estabrooke. On-campus housing is at 90% capacity, and with the rearrangement of these building functions, students will not be pushed off campus.

“While there won’t be increased housing, there will be more new housing, which I think is an exciting development that we should all be talking about. There will be an official announcement about that shortly,” said Delorge.

Vice President Keegan Tripp shared that his approach to tackling the club storage issue is first to prioritize outdoor club equipment relocation. The pilot program will progress through multiple rounds. 

Tripp, along with Vice President for Student Organizations Julian Ober, is working with James Psalidas, director of student involvement, to condense the process of dual organization recognition. The initiative will make it easier for students to institute new clubs. 

“Myself, President Delorge, Dean Dana and President Ferrini-Mundy had a lovely lunch on Monday. We discussed how to further connect the president’s office with students,” said Tripp. “We discussed going forward with some joint town halls and office hours in the future. I am super optimistic about our relationship with admin that we’ve been building.” 

Tripp also mentioned uploading the weekly senate meetings to YouTube within the next few weeks. 

Tripp attended the first meeting of the Student Success Hub Task Force, co-chaired by Associate Provost Scott Marzilli and Dean of Libraries Daisy Singh. They are working to determine what a student success hub on campus would look like. 

The majority of Senate seats have been filled. However, 11 remain open across four departments. One seat is available in education, four in engineering, five in earth, life and health sciences, and one in business. Two other seats are available at large. Tripp said that UMSG currently has the highest number of senators since 2019.

The guest speaker series will be kicking off next week. Tom Peako, CEO of the UMaine Alumni Association, will be welcomed by the senate on Feb. 20. The speaker schedule for the remainder of the spring 2024 semester is as follows:

Feb. 27: Vice President for Finance and Chief Business Officer Kelly Sparks

March 5: CEO of UMaine Foundation Jeffrey Mills. He is also a former UMSG president

March 12: No senate

March 19: Vice President for Financial Affairs Paige Allen

March 27: Lieutenant William Flagg, UMaine police chief

April 2: No speaker that day

April 9: Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost John Volin

April 16: Board of Trustees Chair Trish Riley

April 23: In this final meeting of the academic year, Delorge will give a farewell address

Allen shared that she will meet with Tripp, the cheer club and the athletics department to create a more equal partnership in terms of competition funding. She and Tripp are also working with Vice President for Student Leadership Jacob Chaplin and an IT representative from Fogler Library to create a SharePoint site that can host a repository for the syllabus bank. 

Fair Election Practices Commission chairman Camden Olson has met with all the executive candidates. He plans to speak to club officers and Greek life affiliates about voting.

According to Orono Town Council Liaison Darrin Martone, Councilwoman Sonja Birthisel is seeking a student to join the hiring committee for town manager. 

Joshua Bohm mentioned a potential $1,000 allocation towards printing funds to support students at the Student Research Symposium who cannot receive funds from other routes. The total will cover fees for those who cannot pay for printer usage. The amount given per student will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Honors College Student Activity Board Representative Amanda Levesque announced that the Maine Day Meal Packout is almost entirely funded. Through requesting donations and holding fundraisers, as of now, the total amount allocated covers 47,000 meals. The last major fundraiser will be a raffle. 

Jacob Heartquist, Interfraternity Council Representative, stated that Phi Kappa Sigma is eligible to return on Jan. 21 of next year. 

Consent Agenda: 

This week’s consent agenda is composed of four financial acts. The first allocates $200 to the Flying Club and the second allocates $80 to the Black Student Union. The third act would allocate $450 to Fastpitch Softball and the fourth would allocate $830 to Orono Contra Dancing. The entire agenda was approved. 

New business:

The Black Student Union, in collaboration with the Caribbean and Latinx Student Alliance, requested funding for a Hair Care Fair, which will be held on March 2 in the Woolley Room of Doris Twitchell Allen Village. $3,450 is to compensate the hired braiders, $486 for barber payment and $920 for the braiding hair/supplies, all of which are split evenly. In 2023, about 20 people attended the event. The two organizations estimate 40 to 50 students this year based on the results of a survey. 

The Pickleball Club requested $550 to rent practice space at the Armstrong Tennis Center. The group was also seeking an allocation of $1,676 for their Virginia Regional Tournament on March 23 and 24. $200 will go toward registration and the remaining balance covers flights, hotels and transportation to the competition. 

Ober has completely revised and rewritten the UMSG job descriptions, previously limited to physical copies. 

Main Motion:

The International Student Association requested $1,000 for Feb. 24 festival costumes. 

The 20th Annual International Dance Festival will have a total of 60 performers. While the motion was passed, senators emphasized the importance of adhering to EBC guidelines when addressing UMSG to request financial assistance.

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