Student Senate Update: Winter Parking Ban adjusted, Student Legal Services model revised

Bret Belden

The first matter of discussion that was brought upon the floor of Student Senate on Sunday night concerned the implementation of a public relations committee that would better communicate the actions taken by Student Senate to the greater student body. Student Senate Speaker Alex Fries said that that he’s excited for the committee, and has “hope that it will help [Student Senate] do more broad scale [public relations] and will then allow [Student Senate] to contact students and hear from them more.”

However, the first proposal brought upon the floor regarded the implementation of a Social Identities Discovery requirement. As a result of 28 votes and two abstentions, the resolution, proposed by junior political science major Douglas Marino, ultimately failed to pass on the floor. If it had been passed, it would have been resolved that the Student Senate would urge the UNH Administration to form a committee to study the implementation of a new Discovery Program requirement surrounding the subject of social identities and social justice. As noted in the resolution, this committee would be composed of members from groups such as OMSA, the Office of Community, Equity, and Diversity, Student Senate and the Faculty Senate.

According to Fries, the discussion by the collective senate reflected that the proposal was voted down not because of the social justice aspect of it but rather because the senators “didn’t feel that their constituents wanted another discovery requirement.”

The next topic of discussion by the senate was over a resolution concerning the installation of charging stations around campus, specifically in seating areas in academic buildings, dining halls and in designated areas around the Memorial Union Building (MUB). Voting on the resolution has been postponed for two weeks.

The next action undertaken by the senate was the discussion of a resolution regarding the Winter Parking Ban, which ultimately passed unanimously.

On the topic of the new parking ban policy, the resolution reads as follows: “For the 2016-17 academic year, there shall be no Winter Parking Ban during the fall semester. In the event of a snow emergency during the fall semester, the university shall implement a temporary ban to ensure the removal of snow from their parking lots for the next day, utilizing all available notifications systems. During said snow emergency, all parking lots will close as normal, with exception to except parking lots and Mill Road Visitor Lot (formerly C Lot), Edgewood Road Visitor Lot (formerly H Lot) and the Thompson Hall Lot. These three lots will remain open until 2:15 a.m., so that students utilizing campus services will have a 15 minute window from the time of service closure (2 a.m.), to access and move their respective vehicles.”

Approximately three hours of Sunday night’s senate meeting was dedicated to discussing the future of UNH student legal services. The bill, informally known as “Legal Services 1,” passed with a count of 25 yays, 11 nays and three abstentions.

“It has been resolved that Student Senate will discontinue the Student Legal Services Program …[and will] work with UNH Police Department, Durham Police Department, the Dean’s Office and all other applicable and necessary departments to ensure that students receive the appropriate forms and information that will be developed by the Student Senate in conjunction with other departments,” as it is stated in the resolution.

In speaking on the amount of students who make use of the lawyer currently under contract by the Student Senate, Fries said, “The numbers just showed that it wasn’t used to the extent; financially it didn’t make sense. A lot of senators came back and said that their constituents had questions as to if it was necessary to have it.” 

According to Fries, the only matter that is currently on the agenda for next week’s senate meeting is the initial reviewing of next year’s budgets for Student Activity Fee Organizations (SAFOs).