A return to routine and the unanimous condemnation of 17 lecturer layoffs by UNH administration, in the form of Resolution 39.21, highlighted the first Student Senate meeting of the 2018 spring semester.

The assembly, held in Room 185 of the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics three hours earlier than its standard 6:00 p.m. Sunday meeting time to avoid scheduling conflicts with that night’s Super Bowl, voted to back the motion, introduced by Academic Affairs Chairperson Audrey Getman, Health & Wellness Chairperson Emily Cochran, Non-Resident Senator 2 Nooran Alhamdan and Community Development Chair Elena Ryan. The resolution panned the decision to, per its text, “not renew the contracts of 17 lecturers for the following academic year across several departments within the college” including “Languages, Literatures and Cultures, English as a Second Language (ESL), English, History and Political Science.”

The motion warned that the abrupt non-renewal of the lecturers’ contracts, if carried out by UNH administration, would eliminate more than 160 years of “collective experience” in multiple educational fields. In turn, it stated the move would detrimentally “affect the quality of courses and decrease the amount of courses offered for students to complete their degrees” and interdict direct long-term student-faculty relations necessary for enriching the educational experience on campus as well as “hinder students from receiving recommendations and opportunities.”

On those merits, accompanied by an overarching “lack of transparency” concerning reasons for the cuts, the resolution ultimately resolved to “condemn the College of Liberal Arts’ decision to not renew contracts of 17 lecturers with little to no notice,” and press the University and College of Liberal Arts Dean Heidi Bostic to publicize information, explanations for and the long-term effects of the layoffs. In addition, it urged Dean Bostic to “reconsider” the cuts and “work toward ensuring a certain level of job security for all faculty and… a voluntary separation program in the event that contracts aren’t renewed.”

While R.39.21 dominated the majority of the assembly’s timetable, more routine matters filled out Sunday’s remaining minutes. A number of senatorial appointments and promotions were enacted and approved. Among the additions were the elections of Kyle Manlogon, Brittany Dunkle, Abigail Hartnett, Emma Chinman and Madeleine Rousseau as new student senators; the appointment of the new director of public relations Nick LaCourse, who had previously served as interim director of public relations and SAF outreach director for the Student Activity Fee Committee (SAFC); the promotion of Student Senator Hayden Stinson to external affairs chairperson; and the appointment of Joshua Velez as judicial affairs chairperson. All the elections were passed unanimously by the Senate with no objections or abstentions.

Student Senate Speaker José Calvo introduced LaCourse’s appointment to the floor, while Student Body President Carly Rotenberg brought forward the appointments of Stinson and Velez to their new respective posts.

In reflecting on Sunday’s assembly, Director of Public Relations LaCourse remarked that, in his two years of service to the Student Senate, the meeting was “probably one of the most emotionally and most content, you know, heavy meetings I’ve ever been in;” speaking to the outcome of the R.39.21 debate, he described it as “a really nice debate by all the senators, and I think the resolution passed was probably the highest quality resolution I’ve ever seen.”

On top of the initial senatorial motion, LaCourse is looking forward to “working with the [lecturers’] union and everybody else to try and get this issue passed for students.”

Benjamin Strawbridge is a News Editor and Official Senate Correspondent for The New Hampshire student newspaper based at the University of New Hampshire, where he reports on the university's Student Senate and other breaking news; he joined TNH in Sept. 2017 as a contributor.
Strawbridge currently attends UNH as a English/Journalism major and part of the UNH Class of 2020.