March 6, 2015

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SGA reconsiders smoking ban motions

Motions initially brought forth last week at a University of Massachusetts Student Government Association (SGA) Senate meeting were re-presented, reconsidered and rewritten during a Senate meeting Monday night.

Marsha Gelin/Collegian

But unlike last week’s lengthy meeting, the Senate held a quick meeting Monday – though neither SGA President Yevin Roh or Speaker of the Senate Jarred Rose were in attendance.

The Senate rehashed last week’s most contentious motion, where it was proposed that it appoint former elections commissioner Nate Hoffman to the head of the commission as elections chancellor because Commuter Area Governor Maria Burden – who was charged with appointing a person to the position – did not appoint anyone to by an Oct. 15 deadline.

Burden spoke before the Senate at Monday’s meeting to explain the situation, saying that while she was notified she had to appoint a chancellor, it was over the summer in a long and general email from Rose sent to all governors – not 15 days prior to the Oct. 15 deadline as specified in the SGA’s bylaws.

“I understand my responsibilities as governor,” said Burden, who is in her fourth year serving as an area governor. “But it is everyone’s responsibility to work together.”

“It’s my fault for forgetting [to make the appointment] but we’re not all perfect,” she said.

Burden also said the fact that the Senate called the motion last week without notifying her first “wrong” because she had no chance to defend herself in front of the Senate. The motion was ultimately tabled at that meeting after it was discussed for some time.

Burden added that if the Senate did not vote on the motion to appoint Hoffman during the meeting Monday, she would make a new appointment – possibly Hoffman, who she agreed was qualified for the post – by next week. Last year’s election chancellor, Zach Dawson – who was not appointed until Nov. 15, 2010 – said that the delay of the appointment would not affect any election activity.

The Senate ultimately voted 25-14 to not pass the motion that would appoint Hoffman at the meeting. That vote gives Burden time to make her own appointment to the post.

The Senate also filled a vacant Senate seat in the Southwest South area by appointing Willis Chen to the post at Monday’s meeting.

Both Chen and former Sylvan Area Governor Mitch Fleischman were initially considered by the SGA Administrative Affairs Committee for the post. Fleischman – in what committee Chairman Nick Barton called one of the committee’s toughest decisions ever – was originally picked for the seat.

However, after talking with Chen, Fleischman withdrew his candidacy because he said that he felt Chen would do an excellent job.

“I was very caught off-guard, I owe him a lot for doing this,” said Chen about Fleischman. “It was a very classy move.”

Elsewhere Monday night, the Senate voted to tweak and rewrite part of a motion sponsored by Sen. Nate Lamb and passed by the Senate at last week’s meeting that proposes an  alternative to the Faculty Senate-passed “A Tobacco-Free UMass Amherst” policy by advocating for designated smoking areas on campus.  Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life Jean Kim had asked Lamb to clarify some wording referring to the policy’s effect on students before she signed the passed motion.

The Senate voted to approve the amendments and then reapproved the motion t calling for smoking areas, which would be similar to the smoking gazebos at Hampshire College.

The “A Tobacco-Free UMass Amherst” policy – which is slated to go into effect July 1, 2013 – bans the use of all tobacco products on campus. And while the SGA Senate passed an alternative to the policy, the legislative body does not have the authority to overrule the Faculty Senate.

In other business, members from both the Residence Hall Association (RHA) and the SGA Senate at Monday’s meeting were appointed to a newly created Subsidiary Governance Body Select Committee, which is combination of SGA and RHA members who “the Senate, RHA, House Councils and Area Governments together to solve some of their working problems and create a more cohesive function,” according to the SGA’s website.

And the Senate also voted to allocate $1,250 to the Orchard Hill Area Government to fund  the Bowl Weekend Bar-Be-Que, which takes place in April, at Monday’s meeting.

Sam Hayes can be reached at sdhayes@student.umass.edu.

 

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