A push for more transparent office hours and amendments to its Standing Orders, as well as a visit from Dean of Students John Kirkpatrick, led the agenda in the Student Senate’s first meeting of the 2019 spring semester and 13th overall meeting of its 40th session.
The former, presented in the form of the night’s sole Resolution – R.40.14, entitled “On the Availability of Posted Office Hours” and presented by Sen. David Cerullo (Upper Quad 3) and Academic Affairs Chair Audrey Getman – sought to urge academic departments to create a comprehensive list of every professor’s office hours on Canvas for students and to make such a list publicly accessible by 2020.
R.40.14 argued that faculty office hour times are not “uniformly posted publicly anywhere except for individual class syllabi” across the board, with some only possessing a physical list of each professor’s hours (such as the History department) and lacking hours to view online, while other faculty do not list hours on their syllabi at all. The motion warned that the absence of such a list could cause students to “miss out on interacting with their professors,” which it called a “vital part of their studies.”
Sen. Cerullo told the body that the list could be useful for students, for instance, who have lost their syllabi or want to talk to their professor about classes or other course matters. He went on to add that professors would have a hand in modifying and updating their hours on the master list.
Academic Affairs Chair Getman added that, in addition to Canvas, the list could be printed and physically posted in multiple places for students’ convenience.
The resolution ultimately passed the body unanimously.
Concerning the latter matter, the issue amending the Senate’s Standing Orders – or rules of general conduct during regular meetings of the session – arrived courtesy of a bill introduced by Speaker Nicholas LaCourse. Although most alterations proved to be minor, a significant revision to Order 10.3 caused the most debate of the night, sparking conversations and concerns over how other members of the body should be treated and referred to during meetings.
Order 10.3 reads, “Members shall always address their remarks [changed to ‘comments’] to the Chair during debate, and never refer to other members directly.” Several senators remarked against the order, arguing that the inability to directly mention other members in their addresses to the body hinders one’s ability to state their case.
“I am strongly against this because I think that prohibiting members from being able to refer directly to other members does not help move conversation forward,” Judicial Affairs Chair Alexandra Work said. “For example, if Lindsay [Collins, Fraternity & Sorority Affairs Liaison] were to say she liked something and I did not like something, I think that it is helpful to discussion for me to be able to say, ‘Lindsay Collins said this, I disagree for this reason.’”
Chair Work, in addition to her motion to strike the second half of 10.3, stressed her support for the order’s requirement for members to address remarks to the Chair of the meeting.
Speaker LaCourse stated his subsequent commitment to clearing up confusion behind the wording of the order, explaining that it primarily referred to second-person pronouns and when not explicitly referencing a previous comment.
Ultimately, Chair Work’s friendly amendment to remove the second half of 10.3 passed with 17 in support and 15 against.
In addition, Order 13, Speaker LaCourse removed it from both the bill and debate due to it requiring “more discussion.”
The Standing Orders bill overall eventually passed the Senate unanimously.
Kirkpatrick, who also serves as Senior Vice Provost for Student Affairs, served as the non-legislative highlight of the night as he welcomed the Senate back from winter break and reflected on President James W. Dean, Jr.’s Jan. 24 “Future of UNH” speech.
Regarding the president’s address, Kirkpatrick noted how Dean incorporated feedback from multiple UNH venues, including Student Senate, and stressed the importance of fulfilling the four strategic priorities, especially given UNH’s recent accomplishments such as achieving the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education’s R1 research status despite not having a medical school.
“So we’ll be working together over the coming months and years to make sure we are advancing the institution in a way that really responds to the young talent that I have before me and the 15,000 students at the University of New Hampshire to really make a mark in this world, and I’m excited about that,” Kirkpatrick said.
The dean also opened the floor to questions from senators, ranging from concerns of selective student admissions from Community Development Chair Nelson Idahosa to an inquiry from Sen. Joseph Ramirez (Non-Res. 8) about UNH’s possible plans to build a medical school in Durham in response to its new Carnegie ranking.
In other business, the Senate confirmed Sen. Jonathan Goldberg (Williamson 1) as the next Director of Public Relations, succeeding current Executive Officer Brittany Dunkle; the corresponding bill passed with one nay. It also unanimously approved its Student Activity Fee Committee (SAFC) Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and removed Sen. Alana Comey (Mills Hill 1) from the body, only to reinstate her as a non-resident senator (Non-Res. 3) due to her no longer living on campus.
The Senate ultimately adjourned at 7:38 p.m.