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Student Senate Update – March 24, 2019: Speaker Nominations Commence, Body Seeks Equal Standing for Online Courses


The yearly nominations for the next Student Senate speaker and calls for online classes to gain the “Writing Intensive” criteria, among other matters, led the body’s first meeting since spring break and their nineteenth overall of Session XL. 

Although saved for the end of the night, the newest set of nominations for the role of speaker, who runs and moderates each weekly gathering of the Senate, in light of the ongoing Student Body General Elections, have the potential to substantially alter the body’s leadership for the next academic year.  

Ultimately, current speaker Nicholas LaCourse and Campus Structure Council Chair Devon Guyer, who is also running for Student Body Vice President alongside presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Ramirez (Non-Res. 8), were the two finalists for the position in the night’s round of voting.  Sen. Logan Stevens (Peterson 1 Co-1), External Affairs Chair and Student Trustee candidate Liam Sullivan, Parliamentarian David Cerullo, and Health & Wellness Council Chair Jennifer Hargenrader were also offered as potential nominees; each one declined the offer. 

Earlier in the meeting, the body deliberated over the night’s sole resolution: R.40.22 – entitled “On Offering Designated Writing Intensive Online Courses” and introduced by Academic Affairs Council Chair Audrey Getman – which urged the university to end prohibiting online courses from having the “Writing Intensive” criteria, as well as for them to evaluate online courses with the same process used to evaluate on-campus classes for the designation and support the Faculty Senate’s similar Motion XXIII – M7 supporting providing online classes with the designation. 

The resolution argued that current UNH online courses do not permit online classes to count as “Writing Intensive” courses, a condition required for students to graduate. It pointed out that students often take advantage of online courses for convenience’s sake “to catch-up with their coursework or get ahead” with major requirements or other on-campus experiences, and that, per UNH’s own website as cited in the resolution’s text, students “who take courses through UNH Online receive the same quality education and diploma as students studying on campus.” 

The motion also highlighted that UNH competitor Southern New Hampshire University enrolls over 90,000 students through its online courses and programs, stressing the need, per the document, to create “a more robust and flexible online course catalogue” to make UNH more competitive. Chair Getman called the bill “self-explanatory” and a “parallel” to the Faculty Senate’s motion passed earlier in the year. 

“…I’m always a huge fan of resolutions that are kind of in support of another governing body’s resolution on campus,” Student Activity Fee Chair Joshua Velez said. “I think that it’s a great way to enforce our terms and our relationship with shared governance around the Faculty Staff…I think that this motion has a lot to say, and I think that your geographic location, your ability to pay room and board, and all that common living [space] [sic] is super important and very in-line with UNH’s mission of education in general, the accessibility of education.” 

The resolution ultimately passed the body unanimously. 

The Senate’s revisions to the 7th amendment of its Standing Orders proved to be another major piece of Sunday’s business. Brought to the floor by Student Body President Ethan McClanahan and Student Trustee Christian Merheb, the revisions focused on the “deliberation” and assessment of the performances of its officers over the course of a session as it considers appointing new or returning members to different officer positions. Per the bill’s sections 7.1 and 7.2, when deliberating on the Senate Speaker’s overall performance, the Student Body President (or the Vice President in their absence) would preside over a meeting. Meanwhile, 7.4 read that during deliberation of an officer, that officer would be required to leave the chamber one at a time and would be permitted to return when “debate on their performance has been exhausted, or by majority vote, or by unanimous consent.” 

McClanahan explained to the body that the alterations to the revisions to the amendment were to streamline and simplify the process, with permitting only the officer under review to leave the chamber during such deliberation was to allow officers who “have the most contact with them” to give their perspectives on their performance. The change would also, per the president, move the review to after the Speaker elections. 

McClanahan additionally stressed that the bill would only apply to the current session, as to make the alteration permanent would require an amendment to the bylaws themselves, a more intensive and time-consuming process. 

The bill ultimately passed the body unanimously. 

Associate Vice Provost for Career and Professional Success (CaPS) and CaPS Director of Marketing, Communication, and Engagement Tyler Wentworth served as the week’s guest speaker as they discussed their roles and the significance of CaPS to the body, as well as highlighting their ongoing efforts to get more students to take advantage of their services and career-oriented events. In their corresponding PowerPoint presentation, the two pointed to increased engagement with CaPS programming (34 percent overall and a 56 percent increase in student attendance at on-campus employer programs, fairs, recruiting events and others, for instance) while stressing the department’s mission of “imbuing career preparedness across the entire UNH community to equip our students with the experiences, knowledge, and skills to thrive in an ever-changing future,” per the presentation. 

“We always want to know who you want to be here [on campus],” Wentworth told the body as he stressed the necessity of student participation in CaPS events. “We can only do so much, you know; we can get an alum from Google to come back, we can get an alum from Facebook to come back, [but] they’re never going to show up at our career fair; they don’t do that. But we can…really solicit people that you want to hear from, and more in the industries you want to hear from” for other events.  

In other senatorial business, the Senate unanimously approved Stephanie Thum (Stoke 4) and Mikayla Matos (Hubbard) as its newest members, while removing Sen. Aaeel Hisham (Adams Tower Co-1) from the roster due to have only attended two meetings for the entire semester, according to Executive Officer Brittany Dunkle. 

Following the speaker nominations, the Senate adjourned at 7:15 p.m. 

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