As the Senate met for its Nov. 18 meeting, the fate of the next Executive Officer and a handful of resolutions rested in their hands.
Concerning the former, Senate Speaker Nicholas LaCourse brought to the floor a bill nominating Director of Public Relations Brittany Dunkle, the end result of a two-week search conducted by an interview committee consisting of LaCourse, Student Body officers and members of the Executive Board that looked into five potential candidates to replace outgoing Executive Officer Caelin McMahon.
LaCourse told the body that Dunkle’s background in conducting outreach for institutional development organizations during her time in the Senate, among other factors, contributed to her nomination.
“She has also impressed the committee with her plan to increase the spread of information from leadership to all members, her plan to tackle office hours in the…Lounge, and her plan to work toward increasing membership from students of marginalized backgrounds by working with Community Development and the Diversity Support Coalition,” the speaker added, stressing that the decision to appoint a new Executive Officer, regardless of the candidate, hinges on “finding the right person to tackle the biggest issues facing the current Senate.”
Soon after debate opened, Judicial Affairs Chair Alex Work motioned to move into a private executive session minus Dunkle and the other present candidates, which the Senate approved unanimously. Following an hour-and-a-half deliberation, the Senate ultimately voted to fail Dunkle’s nomination; no further moves were made to address the position that night.
Following the executive session was the night’s first resolution – R.40.10, entitled “Supporting a Men’s Club Soccer Team” and introduced by Student Trustee Christian Merheb and students Aramazd Havan and Jordan Meaney – which urged UNH to devote more resources toward Campus Recreation in the name of establishing a men’s soccer team and “accommodate the needs of aspiring non-Division I athletes.”
The motion cited “substantial interest” from the student body over the course of several years for the creation of a men’s soccer team, as students have gained approval from Campus Recreation, which considers the proposal to be “adequate” and “satisfactory,” but lacks proper funding to establish the team in the first place. The resolution also pointed to the “highly competitive and award winning” nature of the UNH Division I Men’s Soccer team as inspiration to fill a “lack of competitive soccer play between intramural and varsity” levels for students to get involved with.
“So this is saying that us, as students, we support this idea, and I think it’s a valuable addition to the community,” Merheb said as he told the body of a pattern he has witnessed during his four years in Senate. “But the university should prioritize and get more resources to Campus Recreation so they can keep meeting the needs of students, because right now, they don’t have enough resources to keep adding teams and providing something that students clearly want.”
When asked about the means of funding the new team and Campus Recreation, Merheb explained that students have expressed interest in funding the team but need to find ways to increase the maximum limit in terms of sports teams which, per the Student Rights, Rules and Responsibilities handbook, are funded in a similar manner to normal student organizations. Merheb said that those new ways could range from hiring more staff to dealing with orders and pressure from the university to keep costs down, among others.
Following debate, the Senate approved of R.40.10 unanimously.
R.40.07, entitled “On Installing Printers in Residence Halls” and introduced by 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, citing reductions in Dimond Library operating hours and the Dec. 7 closing of the UNH Computer Store in the Memorial Union Building as primary motivations.
In its previous Nov. 11 meeting, the body, at the urging of Sen. Jonathan Merheb (Stoke-2), postponed the motion due to confusion over the project’s financial impact on students; a week later, Student Body President Ethan McClanahan motioned to again table the resolution for another week, which the body passed with 28 yays and four nays.
Meanwhile R.40.09 – entitled “Bringing Improvements Concerning Your Commute, Leisure and Enjoyment (BICYCLE)” and brought to the floor by External Affairs Chair Liam Sullivan – urged UNH administration to implement a bicycle-sharing program along the likes of services such as Zagster, a Boston-based bike-sharing provider that has, per the motion, expressed interest in bringing their service to the university.
The resolution argued that such programs have the potential to “ease the strain on existing transit systems,” with Zagster already having had installed their service at colleges such as Dartmouth College, Cornell University and Princeton University, among many others. The motion added that the addition of a bike-sharing program would serve to “assist the University in becoming a more active, accessible, and sustainable campus.”
External Affairs Chair Sullivan explained that students wanting to participate in the program would be required to create a Zagster account, download an app and pay as-you-go ($1.50/hour), monthly ($12) or annual ($25) rates – not counting student discounts – and rent a bike from designated stations planted across campus; bikes could be returned to any station when done with use. Sullivan added that funding is planning to come from a variety of sources ranging from town and university officials to credit unions with a projected initial cost of $50,000 – $70,000 dependent on how many bikes the university requires for the service to work.
The Senate ultimately passed R.40.09 unanimously.
In other senatorial business, the Senate unanimously welcomed Jenny Hargenrader (Haaland) and Sarah Scheinman (Gables-4) as the body’s newest members, while a bill from Student Activity Fee Committee (SAFC) chair Joshua Velez to approve First Year Representative Juliana Phillips (Hubbard-1) passed with two nays.
The Senate ultimately adjourned at 8:21 p.m., and did not meet on Nov. 25 due to the Thanksgiving break.