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Student Senate Update: Final Senate meeting of the fall semester

Student Senate Speaker Alex Fries walked into his office in the Memorial Union Building at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4 to find a manila folder that contained a collection of petitions to impeach Student Body President Jonathan Dean. Fries said that the petitions were brought forth on account of a few offenses that were potentially violations of the specific bylaws concerning the student body president. Over the course of the next two hours, Fries continued to receive petitions regarding the subject.

According to Fries, the bylaws of the senate stipulate very clearly how the removal of a student senate executive board member can occur. There are two ways to do so: a petition must be signed by one half of the total voting number of the Student Senate and be submitted to the senate speaker, or a petition must be signed by 300 full time undergraduate students.

At the beginning of Sunday’s senate meeting, the last such meeting of the semester, Fries addressed the student representatives about his receiving of the petitions but announced that he had not been able to verify the names on the petition as fulltime undergraduate students and would therefore not bring up the topic for further discussion. According to Fries, he would be in violation of the bylaws potentially if he didn’t verify such names brought to him.

Fries said that the only way to validate such names on the petition would be to provide the list to the Registrar’s Office and for them to run the names through the system.

“It is my intention to fully execute the bylaws and will be contacting the Registrar’s Office as soon as they are open. I’ll be providing them with the signatures that I have received,” Fries said. “This will be coming up next semester at the first meeting. It’s important to me that we follow the bylaws to a T, because if we don’t, then we don’t have any rules, and if we don’t have any rules then it’s chaos.”

An appeal was made by Senator Alex Work to further address the petition before the floor, but the decision by Fries to hold the discussion until next semester was upheld by the senate.

Dean said the following statement on the topic of the petition: “I work for all students, and I do that everyday and no student had come up to me and expressed any concerns about my work despite my efforts to reach out to any students involved with the petition. After the meeting [Sunday night], I had three of them say that they would like to meet with me and I will gladly do that. I am willing to meet with any student who has any concerns about what my office and what my team has been doing as I have been willing to do so this entire year.”

Three individuals were also appointed to positions during the meeting: Lauren Wiegand as the student senate executive officer, Jake Adams as the student activity fee committee (SAFC) chairperson and Christian Merheb as the senior policy advisor to the student trustee. Wiegand’s and Merheb’s appointment went into effect immediately following the approval of the senate, while Adams will officially assume his position on Jan. 24. Until that point, Aaron Scheinman will continue to serve as the SAFC chairperson. Fries said that Scheinman will train Adams in the time leading up to the transition. Health and Wellness Chair Kathleen Clark resigned from her position on Sunday; Dean is expected to appoint an interim chair within two academic days and a permanent chair within two academic weeks.

The following fee recommendations by the Financial Affairs Committee were passed by the senate body: Health Fee, SHARPP Fee, Campus Recreation Fee, Transportation Fee, Career and Professional Success Fee, Student Activity Fee, Technology Fee, Housing Rates and Dining Rates. The lone recommendation not passed by the senate was that of the Athletics Fee. According to Fries, there was some “communication errors” in contacting UNH Athletics Director Marty Scarano and he wasn’t able to speak on the fee to the voting body of the senate.

“The body didn’t feel comfortable passing a fee that they didn’t know the ins and outs about,” Fries said. “[Dean] and his cabinet will have a conversation with Scarano and will address some questions that were brought forth by some senators and students.”

Also passed during the meeting was a resolution concerning an initiative to increase the amount of recycling bins in academic buildings that appeared to be lacking such necessary containers. 

Another resolution passed was one that aims to increase the amount of bike storage and coverage of such bikes racks. According to the resolution, 12 out of 31 residential buildings do not currently have such bike storage options.

The final action undertaken by the student senate was the passing of a resolution that calls for the university to develop a system to filter and restrict the use of direct communication emails.

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