Student Senate Update: Sept. 16, 2018 – Guest Speakers and Approvals Showcase Business as Usual


The second meeting of the Student Senate’s 40th Session showcased no big surprises or major legislation on Sunday, and essentially served as day two of the body’s introductory phase, featuring more bills concerning senatorial and committee nominations and approvals, as well as the validation of the Senate’s Summer Logs and welcoming of three guest speakers.
The agenda listed Director of Campus Recreation Dr. Stacey Hall, who has been in her position for over six years, as the night’s official featured visitor. Hall’s aim was to introduce the body to the doings of Campus Recreations – which, according to her corresponding PowerPoint, described its mission as dedicated to providing “outstanding educational experiences through a variety of recreation opportunities” to benefit the “healthy lifestyles” of students – and familiarize new and returning senators with changes made to the Hamel Recreation Center (HRC) since the end of the last academic year.
The improvements to the HRC, Hall noted, included a new West Gym floor on the HRC’s third level, a new and more durable Slam Wall which featured a section of the floor on top of reinforced. New “Intro to Fitness” courses that teach participants specific workouts, such as learning how to perform an Olympic lift or how to do weights.
In describing the goals of the “Intro” classes, Hall explained that “one of the main reasons to…increase our [student participation rate from] 77 percent to 90 percent is a lot of folks don’t feel comfortable or maybe still want to learn about how to work out.”
Hall also revealed statistics that featured the effects of exercising at the HRC on student GPAs, which generally resulted in higher scores for groups who went more often, with the largest improvements being bestowed on students visiting four or more times a week. The study used the class of 2014 as its test subjects and tracked the effects both after one year and after their graduation, with the gaps between different groups becoming smaller after graduation than after one year.
Although not officially listed on the agenda, the night’s two additional guest speakers, Durham Town Councilors Allan Howland and Sally Tobias, came to welcome the Senate back to UNH and make clear their efforts in improving transparency through direct contact between student-led bodies like the Senate and the Durham Town Council, as well as in, per Howland, letting students know “what we’re doing and then for us to also have an idea of what you guys are doing.”
Specifically, the councilors visited Sunday to advertise an event taking place at Holloway Commons (HoCo) on Tuesday, Sept. 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. aimed at helping students who had not registered to vote before the Sept. 11 primaries to go through the process and clear up confusion surrounding the voting process. Tobias stated that a New Hampshire driver’s license (or passport) and proof of being a UNH student are strongly recommended for those wishing to attend. A similar event was also announced by Howland and Tobias for Monday, Oct. 22 at the same time and location.
In speaking of the importance of the events, Tobias emphasized that “if you are a domicile in Durham…if you sleep in Durham, you can vote in Durham; that’s really important,” an indirect response to recent controversies surrounding New Hampshire state legislation aiming to provide clarity to the definition of terms such as “domicile” regarding public participation in the voting process.
Following the guest speakers, the Senate continued its introductory phase as it approved and nominated additional senators and committee members. Regarding new senators, a unanimously approved bill introduced by Executive Officer Caelin McMahon approved Jessie Doe Hall Sen. Michela Ur, Gibbs Hall Co-Sen. 1 Thomas McDonough, Gibbs Hall Co-Sen. 2 Elza Brechbuhl, Hunter Hall Sen. Hannah Conway, Sawyer Hall Co-Sen. 1 William Papageorge, Sawyer Hall Co-Sen. 2 Maria Eduardo Dos Santos Koch, Minis Sen. Nicholas Crosby, Mills Sen. 1 Alana Comey, Non-Resident Sen. 1 Alexandra Work, Non-Resident Sen. 2 Tessa Cole, Non-Resident Sen. 3 Alyssa Dean and Non-Resident Sen. 4 Abigail Sheridan.
While no action was taken on a bill aiming to add more members to its Judiciary Committee due to a lack of volunteers, the Senate did unanimously approve a bill, introduced by Senate Speaker Nicholas LaCourse, to add Executive Officer McMahon, Sen. Ur and Student Body President Ethan McClanahan as new members of the Election Committee.
The Senate also took on even more members to its already heavily populated Financial Affairs Committee, including Senators Annah Santarosa, Ashim Gurung and Jonathan Merheb, as well as Senators Crosby, Work, Comey, Papageorge, Koch and McDonough. The bill, introduced by Senior Financial Advisor Allison MacPhee, was passed unanimously as well.
The Public Relations Committee also benefited on Sunday when it gained a new Deputy Director of Public Relations in Jonathan Goldberg and Hannah Begley as its next Social Media Coordinator. Its new general members include Senators Crosby, Santarosa, Sheridan, Papageorge, McDonough and Elza Brechbuhl and External Affairs Chair Liam Sullivan. The committee’s corresponding bill, introduced by Director of Public Relations Brittany Dunkle, was passed unanimously by the body.
Student Activity Fee Committee (SAFC) Chair Joshua Velez introduced bills to approve Senators Comey, Luke O’Connell and Stephan Toth as the committee’s senators and approve of Jonathan Eyberse and Patrick Poulin as its new at-large members; both bills were also passed unanimously by the Senate.
The last piece of regular business came in the form of the approval of the Senate’s Summer Logs, or the hours members of the body worked over the UNH summer break period. As mandated by Article II, Subsection V, Line XVI of the assembly’s official bylaws, Student Body President McClanahan and Vice-President Jake Adams were each required to work on campus for at least 20 hours a week – or a total of 360 hours – on a variety of pressing issues and ventures across the Durham campus. Their efforts were compiled into a report – sent to The New Hampshire by Adams – consisted of a summary of each issue, steps already taken to address the problem(s) involved and potential solutions, and the estimated amount of time the team spent on each issue.
Among the 17 total cases covered in the report, one, for instance, regarded recent confusion over free speech guidelines on campus for students and political organizations in terms of both speech and counter-speech, while another involved seeking improvements for the university’s recycling practices.
The goal of approving the summer logs, aside from fulfilling the bylaws’ requirements,  was, per the report’s introduction, to “provide the 2018-2019 student presidential administration with a roadmap with which to follow-up on and implement the [summer] projects,” improve overall senatorial transparency and “bring the new session of the Student Senate up to speed on these issues and the steps that have been taken thus far to remedy them.”
The logs’ corresponding bill was passed unanimously by the Senate, which adjourned at 7:26 p.m. at the end of regular business.