This past Sunday, Student Senate faced a sharp divide over a resolution designed to allow a farmers’ market to operate on campus grounds, which resulted in a two-week vote postponement.

The motion in question, Resolution R.39.23, titled “Allowing the Seacoast Growers’ Farmers’ Market to Operate at the Campus Crossing Visitor Lot” and introduced by External Affairs Chairperson Hayden Stinson, called to “urge” UNH administration to grant the aforementioned organization weekly access to campus grounds, specifically one of its visitor lots, to allow it to hold its annual June to October farmers’ market. The resolution cited, among other core reasons in favor of the event, the need to favor “increased interaction” between the farmers’ market and UNH in favor of strengthening their “symbolic relationship” for the benefit of both sides.

The positive consequences of the motion, if passed, would include a successful break in the “disconnect among the students” between the “perception of Durham as a not only a college town” and a “prosperous family community,” as well as the ability to showcase the “vibrancy of the local community” and “increase the accessibility and turnout for the event” to accommodate the institution’s “cultural and economic interests.”

In addition, the bill resolved to “urge” UNH to provide “as substantial a discount as possible” to cover any possible rental fees and reduce “barriers” that could potentially limit the impact of the event on campus grounds until Oct. 1.

Chairperson Stinson, who is working with the Durham Town Council, explained that the bill proposed aid to the farmers’ market. Stinson said that “part of the reason students misbehave in this town is because they don’t realize that it’s a family community, and they do things here they would never do in their hometown because they’re just not aware of how big and how great of a community Durham is;” the overarching goal is to “incorporate” the town into the sustainability of the event as a way to further unite the town and its populations.

Despite the resolution’s benefits and community-oriented goals, numerous questions emerged from a number of present members concerning dates, details and locations. Amendments were suggested about the bill’s language, including one from Non-Resident Senator 6 Katie Clark, to remove a mention of “tension and unease” between the University and the town of Durham due to it not being “incredibly necessary.”

Criticism arose from members questioning differences between the presented version of the bill and the version presented to the Student Senate Judiciary Committee prior to the Feb. 11 meeting.

According to Stinson, Associate Vice President of Business Affairs David May has so far suggested multiple areas, such as Lot A, Section 4, as potential locations for the event, while blocking the Campus Crossing as a prospective site, and desiring to move the end date to Aug. 25.

After nearly 10 minutes of debate about language, as well as a total of 50 minutes of little progress, Director of Public Relations Nick LaCourse urged the body to vote on the bill’s postponement. While he commented that both the original and amended language of the motion was “fine,” LaCourse asserted that further nitpick-level deliberation over the resolution was “only going off on a limb” and that detail-specific amendments and their objections were only “wasting the body’s time,” arguing the conversation was “straying into frivolous” territory.

The amendment about language ultimately passed with four nays and five abstentions, while the resolution as a whole received a motion to postpone until Feb. 25.

Aside from R.39.23, procedural business filled out the remainder of the session, including the removal of Non-Resident Senator 4 Joseph Schiedler and Non-Resident Senator 1 Brendan Mooney (who were replaced by Lindsay Collins and Cailee Griffin, respectively), as well as the addition of Max Schoenfeld, Caelin McMahon, Cody Belanger and Nick Crosby as new members of the Judiciary Committee, for the remainder of Session XXXIX.

In spite of the split amongst the body, Student Senate Speaker José Calvo insists that such fervent debate is normal and is “glad that we are having more discussion during these meetings.” For him, the lack of a definitive passing vote on R.39.23 illustrates that “people are actually opposing one another and having these debates,” which he labeled as both “controversial” but also “welcome in a democracy.”

And as for the fate of Stinson’s farmers’ market bill, Senate Speaker Calvo simply stated “outcomes weren’t as expected, but we will see in two weeks when the resolution comes up again.”

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.