Following another week of dynamic debate surrounding budgets, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Student Senate presented yet another comparably mild meeting on Sunday as two major resolutions and a handful of other bills led the agenda.
The night’s first resolution – R.40.07, entitled “On Installing Printers in Residence Halls” and introduced by guest Shannon O’Hara and Student Body Vice President Jake Adams – urged the university to install at least one printing station in every residence hall by the 2020-21 academic year. The motion cited recent changes to the Dimond Library’s weekday operating hours – from 2:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. – as well as the imminent closure of the UNH Computer Store in the Memorial Union Building – announced in September – as motivators to look into ways to make printing services more accessible for students.
The resolution also cited a 2017 survey, conducted by the Senate’s Financial Affairs Committee (FAC), as part of its argument; the survey found that 70 percent of 125 surveyed UNH students use on-campus printing stations and 76 percent of those surveyed supported the installation of more printing stations. Meanwhile, 43 percent of students opposed more printing stations, citing concerns over increased costs against the student body.
Printing centers are presently located at Kingsbury and McConnell Halls, as well as the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics, the MUB’s first floor Computer Cluster and Dimond Library.
In discussing the motion with the body, O’Hara brought up conversations she had had with students facing difficulties completing basic tasks, like printing papers and assignments for classes, due to the relatively small number of printing stations on campus, especially for students lacking printers of their own and during high-traffic times like midterms or finals weeks.
O’Hara added, however, that the resolution served mostly as encouragement and a basic outline to promote more research into the matter in the meanwhile, hence its two-year window. When asked about the projected costs of the project, she said there are no set costs as of yet, but that the additions could potentially affect the annual mandatory Student Technology Fee.
Adams, adding onto O’Hara’s statements, said that UNH Information Technology (IT) would supervise the new stations once installed.
“…the gist we got [from IT] is that this is possible,” Adams said in support of the motion. “They’re waiting to hear back on student input, and a direct cost analysis…we’ve done a lot of talk but no action for multiple years, so that’s why we’re bringing this up.”
The resolution faced criticism, however, for its lack of clarity and uncertainty surrounding the plan’s financial impact on students – a point made by Sen. David Cerullo (Upper Quad-3) and others – as well as concerns from External Affairs Chair Liam Sullivan over the limited scope of the FAC survey; Adams replied that the survey was the extent of information available to him and O’Hara when they were drafting the motion.
Questioning over the resolution led Sen. Jonathan Merheb (Stoke-2) to move to postpone its passing for a week until “more financial analysis” could be done on the plan; the postponement passed the Senate with 28 in favor and five against.
Resolution 40.08 – entitled “Supporting Elements of the Proposed Policy for Animals On-Campus” and brought to the floor by Academic Affairs Chair Audrey Getman and Vice President Adams – sought to back the passing of a “baseline policy” that would ban non-service animals from UNH-owned non-residential buildings. The MUB, meanwhile, would uphold their current policy of allowing Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) properly registered with UNH Student Accessibility Services (SAS), as well as service animals, while prohibiting all other animals.
The motion argued that differing iterations of policies allowing ESAs and other animals in general in academic buildings – from both the Student Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate and UNH administration – and the lack of a singular transparent “baseline” across all of campus have led to confusion among faculty and students, making it harder for the university to “differentiate between registered ESAs and non-registered ESAs” and forcing professors to “discipline against both types of animals equally” regardless of individual circumstances.
The motion also stated that other New England colleges, such as Plymouth State University, Keene State College and the University of Vermont, have passed standard animal policies akin to the Faculty Senate’s iteration – written by the Office of the Dean of Students and presented by the Faculty Senate’s Student Affairs Committee – which defines accepted animals in UNH buildings and limitations on what animals are allowed and where they are permitted.
“So the issues that professors have been running into [are] students have allergies, a dog might be barking in class and it’s totally messing with the rest of class, and so on and so forth,” Adams said as he explained the motion’s rationale to the body. “So the policy [the Faculty Senate] want to move to is…ESAs that have been specifically vetted and approved by SAS for the classroom and for behavioral being-good in public, those ones will still remain, but they have to get a specific opt-in exemption.”
Adams said the added clarity would make it easier for professors to lay down rules regarding animals in class while accommodating student needs for certified service animals. When asked by Sen. Stephan Toth (Lord-1) whether animals used for in-class research purposes would be affected by the new policies, the vice president stated that they would be included as part of the “baseline,” as the “baseline” policy would follow the Faculty Senate’s proposed motion regarding animals on campus.
R.40.08 ultimately passed the assembly unanimously.
In other senatorial business, the Senate voted to approve a bill – introduced by Student Activity Fee Committee (SAFC) Chair Joshua Velez – amending assembly bylaws that would allow the First-Year Representative to join Senate committees. Similar permission had been granted to the former role of First-Year Senator but later revoked when the Senate replaced it with the similarly-named First Year Representative position, held by Juliana Phillips as of Nov. 15. The bill passed the body with one nay.
In addition, the Senate voted to unanimously approve the removal of Sens. William Papageorge (Sawyer, Co-1) and Xuanzhe Zhao (Non-Resident 7) from the body. Executive Officer Caelin McMahon explained that Papageorge did not have sufficient time to dedicate to the Senate on top of his current schedule, while Zhao was removed due to communication issues between him and the body after multiple attempts over the course of several weeks.
Following delayed communications, which had been pushed to the end of the meeting by Speaker Nicholas LaCourse, the Senate adjourned at 7:12 p.m.
Correction: A previous version cited the wrong senator regarding R.40.07’s postponement; it was Sen. Jonathan Merheb (Stoke-2) who called for the postponement, not Jonathan Goldberg (Williamson-1).