Efforts to improve the university’s composting services, concerns over SAFC membership and the presence of Associate Vice Provost for International Programs Dr. Kerryellen Vroman were just some of the business that occupied the Student Senate’s time at their 17th meeting of the 40th session on Sunday.
The former matter arrived in the form of Resolution 40.16 – entitled “Improving Composting Services on Campus” and introduced by Campus Structure Chair Devon Guyer, First Year Representative Julianna Phillips and Sens. Joseph Bradley (Hetzel 1), Annah Santarosa (Stoke 1), Thomas McDonough (Gibbs 1, Co-1) and Gordon Guilmette (Gables 1) – which urged the university to research ways of upgrading the campus’ current composting services to make them “more viable,” as well as to provide more accessible ways and locations for students to drop off compostable items, such as public receptacles.
The motion argued that present composting services, which utilize a composting facility serving fertilizer to several university fields, cannot “break down compostable utensils and dinnerware that are provided on campus,” and that all campus cafes have compostable foods and utensils that are not sent to the facility due to them lacking accessible areas to dispose of compostable materials. The resolution added that, because of the absence of more accessible locations, most compostable foods eaten outside the dining halls are not composted by the students that eat them.
In addition to addressing the problem at hand, the document’s text cited potential benefits of composting, including reduced emissions, smaller landfills and the ability to “capture and destroy 99.6 percent of industrial volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in contaminated air,” all of which could reduce the negative effects of greenhouse gases, like methane, that come from “organic waste” in landfills.
In her defense of the motion, Chair Guyer argued that improvements to current composting services, an idea brought forward in a recent council meeting, would also strengthen UNH’s ability to advertise its high sustainability ratings, as well as improve student awareness of composting overall.
“…We decided it was extremely important for the university to fix this so that the things we’re paying money for to be composted are actually being composted rather than being thrown out, and to make it so that everyone can possess access to this service rather than just the dining halls,” Guyer said.
When asked by External Affairs Chair Liam Sullivan to clarify on the resolution’s aim to research “more viable” options, Guyer responded that the previously-mentioned utensils from the dining halls are not currently composted due to a lack of heat at the current facility, with the “research” ultimately homing in on either upgrading UNH’s current facilities or adopting a new system altogether. Guyer additionally clarified to Sen. Logan Stevens (Peterson 1, Co-1) that food left on the dining hall conveyor belts are composted until the end of the day, with food remaining after hours and consumed outside of the dining halls being thrown out; however, Guyer could not confirm the financial effects of potential upgrades or replacements to current composting systems when asked by Community Development Chair Nelson Idahosa due to the lack of finality regarding changes to the system.
Sen. Joseph Ramirez (Non-Res. 8) asked Guyer whether nearby schools or institutions and their composting services served as inspiration for improvements to UNH’s services; the motion author replied that while no one university has so far inspired new ideas for changes to the system, she praised the University of Connecticut’s composting methods and said she would keep their system in mind as she and other members of Senate discuss the issue with UNH.
R.40.16 ultimately passed the body unanimously.
Prior to the motion’s passing, amid the regular assemblage of bills adding and removing members from Senate and its committees, Student Activity Fee Committee (SAFC) Chair Joshua Velez proposed that Sen. Stephan Toth (Lord 1) would be removed from SAFC due to reportedly missing three of the last five committee meetings without notifying Velez, providing reasons for his absences or providing a required proxy member to fill his place.
“There is no definition within the bylaws of how many meetings you have to miss, but I believe that three meetings in a row constitutes a removal of a Student Activity Fee Committee senator because we need to have dedicated members of the committee who are present and making decisions about the distribution of the Student Activity Fee,” Velez said.
Sen. Toth responded that he had to “unfortunately” miss the meetings due to family emergencies, and that his alleged unexcused absences were the result of misunderstanding between him and the committee.
Velez said they were not required by the bylaws to alert Sen. Toth of his absenteeism, stressing they would have “appreciated” knowing about the absences either before they occurred or retrospectively. Speaker Nicholas LaCourse added that, although SAFC bylaws do not place a limit on unreported missed meetings, Robert’s Rules cap allowed unexcused absences at four prior to removal. However, the chair said that Sen. Toth would still be eligible to add himself as a “candidate” for SAFC membership in a revised version of the typical SAFC member addition bill and be interviewed for a chance to clear up any misunderstandings and potentially be reinstated the committee.
The SAFC member removal bill ultimately passed with 27 in favor, 14 against and two abstentions.
Vroman, who supervises the university’s Global Education Center, made it her mission on Sunday to endorse study-abroad programs and recent efforts by UNH to increase international student enrollment, calling the subject a “critical” component for present and future students and as a way to prevent them from “living in a bubbled world” of cultural isolation.
Vroman shared the Center’s three main objectives and goals in a corresponding PowerPoint, which are to “actively promote international engagement and cross-cultural understanding,” “bring UNH to the world” and vice-versa, and to make international education a “central” experience through the “exchange of people and ideas;” it also touted study-abroad programs as representative of an “investment” in student learning and social mobility, among other benefits.
Vroman also presented definitions for “globalization” – a process that “focuses on the worldwide flow of ideas, resources, people, economy, values, culture, knowledge, goods, services, and technology,” per the presentation – and promoted the “internationalization of higher education,” which involves the integration of “an international intercultural and global dimension” into the university’s goals, teaching methods, research and provided services to better accommodate a variety of out-of-state students.
“So when we’re thinking about globalization, we’re thinking about what happens in the world today and how it affects you and me…as well as everyone else in the world,” Vroman said, “and what’s really happened is that…[society] is not contained anymore to one [country]; it affects the world at the same time, and the technological advances have made that so much faster as it’s ever-increasing. So, I think we need to be mindful of what we mean by the term ‘globalization’ because that’s where it starts, and…what it means to have an internationalized university – and UNH in particular – and what that means in higher education.”
Vroman also took questions from senators following her presentation, which ranged from how UNH is improving its efforts to attract international students from different cultures to how Vroman’s office is working to get international students more involved in daily life and social events on campus.
In other senatorial business, more approvals dominated the remainder of regular business, with the majority of new enrollments affecting the SAFC committee, which garnered five new candidates – Sens. Ramirez, Bradley and Cameron Horack (Non-Res), Senior Financial Advisor Allison MacPhee and Health and Wellness Chair Jennifer Hargenrader – and Sen. Toth’s own readmission to the committee, pending the approval process headed by Velez; the bill passed the body unanimously.
The body as a whole also faced a reshuffling of its membership Sunday, as it unanimously approved the removal of Sen. Allyson Smith (Hubbard) from the body due to multiple unexcused absences, according to Executive Officer Brittany Dunkle; the addition of Sens. Taylor Donnelly (Williamson 1) and Callie Laprise (Hunter, Co-2); and the additions of Sens. Chris Garcia (Woodsides) and Nick Byrne (Woodsides) to the Senate’s Judiciary Committee. The removal of Campus Structure Chair Guyer from the Judiciary Committee passed with one nay, because Guyer is running for student body vice president under Joseph Ramirez.
Following the passing of R.40.16, the Senate adjourned at 7:19 p.m.