The Student Government Association debated on whether or not to pass a bill allowing student senators studying abroad to run for re-election while out of the country, as well as additional unfinished business at their final meeting of the fall semester on Dec. 13.
The Senate considered a resolution authored by Senate Parliamentarian and Resident Senator Charli Strassman, At-Large Senator Renee Callendar and At-Large Senator Sebastian Zar, and sponsored by Nursing Senator Elizabeth Gabriel, to allow senators who leave their seats to study abroad during spring semesters to run for re-election while abroad.
Strassman and Callendar will be studying abroad in the spring, and unless the bill passes, will not be able to run for seats in next year’s senate while abroad.
The wording of the resolution, as written and presented, only extends the privilege to run for election while abroad to students who were formerly members of the SGA, such as Strassman and Callendar.
Multiple senators and members of the Executive Board expressed concerns with the bill, particularly the fact that, as written, it only benefits members of the SGA and not all students.
At-Large Senator Derel Stroud said he believes the bill should be open to all students or none at all.
“As it stands, no offense, this is really greedy of the Senate,” Stroud said.
SGA Vice President Dana Kappel also heavily criticized the proposal by Strassman, Callendar and Zar in her capacity as chair of the Elections Committee.
“This is not a fair bill,” Kappel said. “It is self-serving and despicable of the SGA to even consider this bill.”
Kappel graduates at the end of the fall semester, and Chief-of-Staff Jesse Beutell is the vice-president-elect.
“As the soon-to-be Elections committee chair, I look unfavorably on this bill,” Beutell said. “It is patently unfair to members of the Seton Hall community who are not members of the SGA. This bill should not be passed unless it is open to everyone and not just previous SGA members.”
Zar said he sees studying abroad as taking a break from Seton Hall.
“This would let members of student government take a break and return,” Zar said. “There is no reason a student who is abroad could not have been involved before they left. I don’t know what could happen abroad that would make someone want to run for SGA.”
Education Senator Moira Kelly challenged Zar’s comments.
“Students abroad could be interested in running for SGA,” Kelly said. “Just because someone is abroad doesn’t mean they might not want to run in their junior year even if they weren’t apart of SGA as freshman or sophomores.”
Kelly said members encourage other students to join SGA because they want to affect change on
–campus. The Senate should not presume that students who study abroad might not want to bring change here at Seton Hall.
Facing a motion to table their bill indefinitely, Strassman, Calendar and Zar withdrew the resolution from consideration so they can reintroduce it next semester without needing a two-thirds vote to bring it before the senate again.
In other business, senators voted to approve a tray-less initiative brought by members of the Executive Board designed to remove trays from the Caf to promote a greener university by reducing waste.
The initiative passed by a ten to five vote, with two senators abstaining. The Executive Board will present the decision of the Senate to Gourmet Dining Services.
The initiative will remove trays from the Caf and place them behind the tray return counter where students who wish to use trays may request one. Trays will no longer be available at the counters in the Caf for unrestricted use by students.
According Beutell, GDS has indicated that they would pull the trays from the Caf if it is what the students want.
“If students dislike the tray-less move, GDS would be more than willing to give them back,” Beutell said.
Diplomacy Senator Yasmin Elkarrimy spoke in favor of the tray-less initiative because most students she spoke to said they do not use trays.
Other senators, including Freshman Senator Holden, questioned whether a tray-less move was something students really wanted.
“We should step back,” Holden said. “The feedback I have gotten from my constituencies is that they are opposed to this.”
International senator David Castrillon also said most students he spoke to were opposed to the initiative.
Arts & Sciences Senator Bryan Lucas said he “could not in good faith vote for the bill” because the students he spoke to were opposed to it. Additionally, Lucas expressed concerns about whether the survey conducted by the Executive Board at the request of the senate was truly representative about what students wanted on the issue.
Lucas attempted to block passage of the bill by motioning to table the bill indefinitely. Lucas’ motion failed, with five senators favoring tabling the bill and 12 who wanted to continue with its consideration.
The Senate also voted to replace Parliamentarian Strassman, who will be spending the next semester at sea. Zar will be the Parliamentarian in the spring.
Additionally, Calendar, who is public relations chair, will be studying abroad as well and Elkarrimy will be replacing Calendar as chair.
Brenden Higashi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org