Student Senate Update: Nov. 3, 2019


Bret Belden

In their first November meeting of Session 41, the Student Senate truly took the term “vehicle” to heart, as they used this week’s agenda as such to feature no less than three transportation-related resolutions, as well as motions concerning dorm sustainability and the use of university bulletin boards, an update on President Dean’s “Future of UNH” and more. 

On the subject of motion, Sunday’s first such resolution – R.41.07, entitled “Regarding Sustainable Practices of Parking Officials” and introduced by Campus Structure Council Chair Logan Stevens; Student Body President Allison MacPhee; and Sens. Max Sawers (Engelhardt), Igor Campos Garcia (Upper Quad 3) and Yuri Makar (Peterson) – sought to urge UNH Transportation Services to switch to recycled paper for their parking tickets when their current inventory of non-recycled paper tickets run out, as well as commend the agency for “their demonstrated commitment to sustainability at UNH through past efforts and future plans…” 

The motion argued that the Transportation Policy Committee (TPC) 15 – a report analyzing the impact of a “transportation demand management (TDM)-based approach to transportation and mobility issues on campus” between 2003 and 2018, according to the report – listed “Expanding UNH Climate and Sustainability commitments” as a central sustainability commitment affecting campus-based transportation, and cited “enhancing policies, practices, and infrastructure which support UNH sustainability goals” as a foundation of the committee’s sustainability efforts. It also listed broader details such as UNH’s “Platinum” ranking from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) via the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STAARS), which ranks universities nationwide based on their level of sustainability, and how UNH is ranked second in the country for sustainability among “institutes of higher education,” according to the resolution. 

The motion added that, per previous Student Senate resolution 40.33, President James W. Dean, Jr., noted sustainability as an “important criterion” necessary to fulfill in order for UNH to achieve his “Four Strategic Priorities” and goal of becoming a top-25 university. 

In his explanation of the motion to the body, Stevens credited MacPhee for spawning the idea of shifting parking tickets toward recycled paper, which he called a “great idea.” 

“…every administrative body at UNH that deals with this pride themselves on sustainability, so this just adds another layer of sustainability practices to UNH,” Stevens said. He added that he and MacPhee have previously spoken to transportation officials like Director of Transportation Dirk Timmons, who said he – as well as a third party who Timmons, per Stevens, said specializes at at “looking at new purchases” – would support looking into the idea and finding the “cheapest” effective solution “100 percent.” 

MacPhee furthermore told the body that the motion has been “fully endorsed” by Student Advisor for Parking and Transportation Services Nicholas Crosby, who the president said was “very impressed” by the motion. 

Per the motion, 18,890 parking violations have been issued out thus far this semester. When asked during deliberation about the state of the current inventory of parking tickets prior to the implementation of recyclable tickets and how many remain, Stevens replied that he currently does not know how many older tickets remain. 

R.41.07 ultimately passed the body unanimously. 

The body also drove the topic home with the introduction of two new resolutions on Sunday. The first – R.41.13, entitled “Recognizing Efforts on Reforming Ticketing Practices” and introduced by Stevens – applauded UNH Transportation Services’ “demonstrated interest” in meeting the demands of R.40.20.  

The Session 40 motion – entitled “On Parking Reform” and brought forth by then-Senior Financial Advisor MacPhee, then-Sen. Kelsey Crowley, former USNH Student Trustee Christian Merheb, then-Judicial Affairs Chair Alexandra Work, and UNH Community Member José Calvo – to urge UNH administration to look into reductions in paid parking hours at Campus Crossing lot and the Edgewood Road visitor’s lot, as well as encourage UNH Transportation to “compile a comprehensive list outlining every parking area at UNH and the associated parking rules and regulations in an effort to be more transparent with students.” The motion also called for an increase to the maximum hour limit in “Pay and Display” areas up to four hours, implement a Student Senate representative in the parking appeals process, and request that Transportation submit parking appeals records from the two previous academic years to the Senate to be “reviewed and audited” by the Campus Structure Council. 

Sunday’s resolution additionally praised Transportation for their efforts to “ensure that parking practices are transparent to students and to the public,” as well as recently successful communications between Parking and student leaders in terms of collaborating to meet student interests, demands and concerns; the motion also encourage Transportation to continue to “strive for more transparent policies” and a “positive parking environment on campus.” 

In its argument, R.41.13 summarized and highlighted how Transportation and Parking worked to meet the demands of R.40.20, such as improvements to the training process for new parking officials, more consistent and “regular” evaluations of officials’ performances, and increased “transparency” between the offices and the student body. The motion also mentioned how Parking chose to hire fewer parking enforcement officers than in past years; the motion did not elaborate on this line. 

Meanwhile, R.41.14 – entitled “Commending the Stagnation of Parking Pass Prices” and again brought forth by Stevens – lauded the efforts of the Transportation Policy Committee (TPC)’s to hold parking prices flat for the following academic year and provide “legitimate care for and desire for student input from student leaders.” 

The motion stated that prices for Parking Passes such as “resident east,” “resident west,” “non-resident west,” “moped” and others, had been on the rise in past years, and TPC allowed for two voting representatives from Student Senate to join the committee, which voted this past September to hold prices flat. 

Both motions were ultimately remanded to the Campus Structure Council for further review. 

Beyond the beaten path of transportation, another considered resolution made its way down the aisle on Sunday; as the first resolution of the night, R.41.06 – entitled “Regarding Sustainable Practices in Dorm Rooms” and brought to the floor by Stevens and MacPhee alongside Sens. Garcia, Sawers, Makar and Allyson Curran (Non-Res. 6), and Historian Georgia Bunnell – urged the UNH Departments of Housing and Facilities to both provide “clearly distinguishable” and separate recycling and trash bins in each student room on campus, as well as urge both departments to have the bins provided to students by the start of the 2020-21 academic year. 

The motion argued that student dorms currently offer one recycling bin per student dorm room but does not offer additional trash bins, which lead many students, per the motion, to either provide their own or use the recycling bin as a trash receptacle as well. The motion stated that any waste found in recycling bins would result in the entire recycling collection and force it to be sent to a landfill.  

Recent efforts to highlight separations between recyclable products and trash-acceptable items comes during UNH’s continued push for increased sustainability campus-wide, with R.41.06 stating that UNH “prides itself on being a National Leader in sustainability practices” while highlighting the university’s “Platinum” rating from STAARS, which it earned from the AASHE in 2017.  

As of Nov. 2019, UNH is one of six colleges nationwide to hold a “Platinum” rating from the STARS program. Other similarly rated colleges include Colby College of Waterville, ME; Colorado State University of Fort Collins, CO; Stanford University of Stanford, CA; Thompson Rivers University of Kamloops in British Columbia, Canada; and the University of California, Irvine, according to the STAARS website. 

Specifically, the motion explained that UNH received a score of 3.36 out of eight possible points in the “Waste Diversification and Minimization” category, which centers around efforts to properly dispose of waste and recycling; the result indirectly led to UNH, in its Sept. 2017 STAARS report, acknowledging that it seeks “opportunities to work collectively towards to enhance sustainability” on the subject of “Waste Reduction and Recycling,” per the report. This section of the report, according to the motion, details goals to promote a “zero-waste” culture and make “significant investments in personnel, infrastructure, and systems” that back waste minimization, reuse and diversion efforts. 

“I assume most of you have lived in a student room on campus and you were given that blue little recycling bin, and most of you probably just used that as your trash/recycling bin; I know I did it last year, I know we bought a trash can to use this year, and that came out of my own money,” Stevens said in defense of the resolution, “and so a student brought it up to me, I thought about it, and thought it was a really good idea.”  

Stevens added that, following the tabling of a similar resolution last session, he received word from David May, the Associate Vice President of the Office of Business Affairs, who reportedly emailed Stevens and said that administration, as well as the Housing and Facilities Departments, were all “100 percent on board” with the proposal. In their calculations for the cost to add trash bins in every student dorm room and apartment, they told Stevens implementation would ultimately cost roughly $30,000, which they reportedly could not place on their agendas and enact until next academic year. 

R.41.06 ultimately passed the body unanimously. 

The night’s final resolution – R.41.15, entitled “– Urging Equal Use of Public Bulletin Boards” and introduced by First-Year Representative Hannah Falcone – urged UNH to enact a limit of four fliers per organization for any one event, as well as discourage the “placement of fliers over other fliers unless the date of the current advertisement’s message has passed” and remove event fliers of individuals or organizations that do not comply with the limitations. 

The motion argued that student organizations and outside advertisers frequently compete “aggressively” for space on the already-popular public bulletin boards – located in the space centering Murkland Hall, Dimond Library and Thompson Hall, and on the left-most pathway toward Thompson Hall – which the resolution stressed leads to organizations using up nearly the entire board space with their fliers in the days prior to their events. This, per the motion, results in students lacking awareness of other events on campus that lack the exposure of events whose organizations “aggressively” promote on the boards, and that the “repeated covering of fliers” leads to “tremendous” paper waste and strains on campus printing resources. 

Furthermore, the resolution contended that students advertising independently, such as those running in First Year Elections, are often limited to the boards and may lack the resources or accessibility to such that other organizations may have, resulting in their advertising being overshadowed by that of other events. 

R.41.15 was ultimately remanded to the Campus Structure Council for further evaluation. 

Outside of resolutions, university President James W. Dean, Jr., served as the week’s guest speaker as he provided a primer and updates on his “Future of UNH” initiative and its four major “strategic priorities;” as reported by The New Hampshire this past January, the four “priorities” include “Enhance Student Success and Wellbeing,” “Expand Academic Excellence,” “Embrace New Hampshire,” and “Build Financial Strength.” Dean also led a Q&A on the initiative and other on-campus issues regarding diversity, the aftermath of the Campus Climate Survey, and other topics. 

In other business, while no new senators were added or removed from the roster this week, the Senate unanimously approved Sen. Lucas Blood (Scott) as the next senior financial advisor, and Emma Pryor-West as the next senate liaison for the Diversity Support Coalition (DSC). The Public Relations Committee also gained both a new deputy director in Sen. Sophie Spina (Gables 1) and a social media coordinator in Sen. Gabriella Corricelli (Upper Quad 1) without objection. 

Additionally, the Senate unanimously and formally approved of the 2019 First Year Election Results, where Hannah Falcone emerged as the next First Year Representative in a four-way first-round race between Falcone and Sens. Paulette Niwewase (Hubbard), Garcia and William He (Lord), who received first (152 votes, or 36.3 percent of all valid votes), second (125 votes, or 29.8 percent of all valid votes), third (99 votes, or 23.6 percent of all valid votes), and fourth place (22 votes, or 5.3 percent of all valid votes), respectively. Outside of the four candidates, 21 votes, or five percent of all valid votes, went to other write-in candidates. 

Due to no one candidate securing a majority of the votes, a provision to the Senate’s “ranked choice” voting method for first year representatives required Falcone and Niwewase to compete in a second round, in which Falcone won 195 votes – or 55.1 percent of valid second round votes – compared to Niwewase’s 159 votes – or 44.9 percent of valid second round votes. 

The results’ corresponding bill stated that a total of 419 ballots were casted in the election, which represented 12.3 percent of “all eligible voters.” Speaker Nicholas LaCourse stated during the bill’s deliberation that this number improved compared to past first-year elections, with last year seeing only a participation rate of 11.9 percent of eligible voters. 

“I think we are making a lot of gains compared to previous years; I think the average before last year’s election was 90 to 95 votes for a first-year election, which is horrible,” LaCourse told the body. “…going forward, I would encourage any future speaker [or] officer corps looking into these minutes [to] definitely look into more dynamic ways we can reach first-year students; I would consider one of the harder populations to reach out to…” 

Following the remanding of R.41.15, the Senate ultimately adjourned at 7:32 p.m. There will be no Senate meeting next week due to UNH’s acknowledgement of Veterans Day; the next meeting will take place the following Sunday, Nov. 17, in room 205 of Hamilton Smith Hall.