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Student Senate Update: Sept. 23, 2018 – Residency revisions and Interim COLA Dean lead the way


Changes to how resident senators are selected and the presence of Interim College of Liberal Arts (COLA) Dean Dr. Michelle Dillon led the agenda in the Student Senate’s third meeting of the 40th Session.
Dillon, serving as the week’s guest speaker, discussed her time at the university thus far as COLA dean and stressed the importance of liberal arts and education on the whole in an increasingly global society filled with many economic challenges. Among her talking points was her desire for students to take chances and explore new topics and perspectives they had not tried before college, even as they question the value of collegiate education itself.
“…across all the university, people are acquiring ways of thinking about unknown things, and that’s a great skill that some might not see as relevant when you’re working on a term paper or preparing for one of your midterms, perhaps,” Dillon told the body. “But ultimately, you are developing habits of mind, habits of mind that will stick with you for the rest of your lives.”
Over time, the former sociology professor said students’ “habits of mind” would become second nature, which she labeled as “habits of the heart, ways of being [and] ways of caring for other people.” She meanwhile praised the Senate for possessing both types of “habits” in their representation of the student body.
Dillon also took time at the meeting to express gratitude for the chance to serve as interim dean as she has gotten to know the COLA faculty and chairs.
“…to hear them talk about what’s going on in their department, the various initiatives they’re engaged in, [and] all the work that they’re doing to keep making liberal arts highly relevant to today’s very dynamically changing world…it’s been a very impressive set of experiences for me,” Dillon said.
UNH students Francesco Alessandro Stefano Mikulis-Borsoi and Kristian Comer, ushered in by Student Body President Ethan McClanahan, served as unofficial guest speakers to demonstrate their new service You Scheduler, a program developed by the pair that, per the university’s 2018 Paul J. Holloway Prize website, is described as a “streamlined college course scheduling web-application” aiming to simplify the schedule-making process through displaying schedules compatible with their desired classes and prerequisites, and allow students to fully customize their own schedules “by prompting students to input their courses, personal preferences, and breaks” for lunch, dinner, work or various other occasions.
Mikulis-Borsoi said the program was founded in Oct. 2017 out of frustration over complications of fitting sections of a certain class into his desired schedule for the next semester.
“There were too many sections…and I was having a really hard time to fit it in my schedule,” Mikulis-Borsoi said as he described the origins of the program. “So, at a certain point, three to four hours later, I find something that works, and then I just call Kristian and complain a lot about the scenario because I was wasting my time…and I was like, ‘Hey, we’re both in computer science, let’s code it and let’s solve the problem.’”
Together, Comer and Mikulis-Borsoi collaborated on a Dec. 2017 prototype and used their concept – one Mikulis-Borsoi said was designed for “a grandmother to be able to use it” – in the 2018 Paul J. Holloway Competition, where it won first place.
Business as usual followed the guests, consisting of bills aiming to approve even more new members and fine-tune pre-existing rules and requirements. The night’s most talked-about legislation focused on the latter, as a bill introduced by Judicial Affairs Chair Alexandra Work resolved to more clearly define a resident senator in the body’s bylaws and make it easier for them to join the Senate.
Per the bill, the alterations include both students living off campus grounds (i.e., an apartment or dorm) and students who reside on-campus that desire to represent non-resident students, so long as they acquire at least 50 non-resident signatures – verified by the office of the Senate Speaker and cycle through the office of the Executive Officer, according to Student Trustee Christian Merheb – and are “regularly accessible to members of their constituency.” Non-resident students who wish to be Student Senators are not required to acquire any signatures.
“Throughout Senate, for as long as I’ve been here…we have had a historically…low representation of non-resident seats,” Work said as she explained the merits of the revised bylaws. “In Session 37, we had 14 percent of those seats filled; 17 percent the next year; 21 percent the next year; and we’re at 12 percent right now.”
Work said that election cycles have played a part in increasing student interest in Senate, and the changes to the bylaws would benefit students who want to run for a seat and have a voice in student affairs but fail to win the election in their respective residency.
Merheb, who contributed additional friendly amendments to the bylaws regarding the new rules, said that measures within the revisions would ensure that “there will always be seats available to those individuals that are non-resident students so that they can always come and join Senate,” but that there would also be available seats if resident students desire to represent non-resident students.
“…right now, non-resident students don’t have the full impact of their voice because a lot of their seats remain empty, so this is like a middle ground that we found that would be acceptable for both sides,” Merheb added.
The bill containing amendments ultimately passed with three nays.
Another bill, presented by Executive Officer Caelin McMahon, concerned the approval of more new senators. The new members include Williamson Sen. 1 Jonathan Goldberg; Upper Quad Sens. Isabelle Kapoian (1), Liam Howard (2) and David Cerullo (3); Hetzel Sen. Joseph Bradley; Christensen Sen. 1 Gabby Corricelli; Alexander Sen. Meagan McLean; Adams Tower Co-Senators Ageel Hisham (1) and Miranda Weaver (2); Gables Sens. Gordon Guilmette (1), Noah Auger (2) and Devon Guyer (3); Woodside Sen. Kathryn Sampson; Stoke Sen. 3 Mary Davis; and Non-Resident Sen. Cody Belanger (5), Kelsey Crowley (6), and Xuanzhe Zhao (7). The corresponding bill passed unanimously.
A collection of smaller bills added more members to a variety of committees as well. Senate Speaker Nicholas LaCourse introduced bills that added Senators Goldberg, Cerullo, Auger and Weaver to the assembly’s Judiciary Committee and Sen. Guilmette to the Election Committee; meanwhile, Student Activity Fee Committee Chair Joshua Velez used bills to add Minis Senator Nicholas Crosby as a SAFC Senator and Hayden Stinson as a SAFC At-Large Member, and Deputy Director of Public Relations Goldberg approved Senators Hisham and Bradley, as well as Senior Financial Advisor Allison MacPhee, as members of the Public Relations Committee.
All of the aforementioned bills were approved unanimously by the Senate, which adjourned at 7:51 p.m.

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