Student Senate Report- Feb. 6, 2020

The Feb. 5 University of Rhode Island’s Student Senate meeting featured one passed bill, discussions about three others were tabled and a speech from a presidential candidate.

Student Senate voted unanimously, with one abstention, to give club organization Uhuru Sasa a $2,000 contingency grant. Senator Annabel Cimbal, the bill’s sponsor, explained that the money would be used to partially fund a speaker at their We Gon’ Be Alright event. The event, according to the organization’s Twitter page, will involve mental health discussion and is part of “Sasa Week.” It will be held in the Memorial Union ballroom at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13. 

The organization did not tell the Senate who the speaker was, but Student Senate advisor Carl Stiles said, “if the dollar amount is allocated by Senate for contingency money, and it is not enough to pay for who they wish to have, they will need to select a different speaker at a different pricing. So that is a good reason why they may have not put the name in this bill on the floor.”

Uhuru Sasa stated that they would need $5,000 for the speaker that they want, but they could cover the other $3,000 themselves. According to Director of Treasury Joseph LaChance, the organization has funds in their account to support this. 

“What this would do is it would just allocate $2,000 to the programming account that they already have, because they do have enough money to cover it,” said LaChance. 

One other bill introduced to the floor was a bill sponsored by Senator Donna Osgood to help get resources for people who have been domestically abused or have been victims of dating violence. After discussion, the bill was ultimately tabled until next week’s meeting after a vote to immediately consider the bill did not pass. 

Senator Bolu Taiwo additionally objected to the vote to immediately consider and said that she thought some of the wording needed to be amended. Osgood said she would definitely be willing to work with others to improve the bill.

After the bill was tabled, External Affairs committee chair Allyson Lantagne said the Senate should save amendments for next week, and if a Senator has an amendment, have it backed by research.

At the beginning of the meeting, Moderator Ryan McWeeney announced that a bill that initially didn’t pass last week, calling for Student Senate to support Gov. Gina Raimondo’s climate change initiative ended up passing after he revisited the rules of the Senate. The vote tally included 14 ayes, nine nays, and 10 abstentions. Due to the high number of abstentions, McWeeney assumed that the bill did not pass. However, McWeeney found that abstentions are not counted in a vote total; rather, just the ayes and nays were.

“I apologize if anyone’s votes were affected by this information, but the bill passed under the proper rules of decorum and it was brought to my attention that we had been doing it wrong for quite some time,” McWeeney said. 

The meeting ended with a speech by Austyn Ramsay, who is running for Student Senate president. Ramsay focused her speech on key issues to her campaign, which include helping “non-traditional” students like herself, a community college transfer. 

Additionally, Ramsay stated her campaign will be focused on mental health, disability access, sustainability, a multicultural platform, cultural awareness, diversity training and food insecurity. 

“There’s more people out there than we even realize,” Ramsay told the Senate. “We hope to work on [these issues] with all of you.”

Ramsay’s running mate will be Madyson Ramsay, her sister.

Finally, Director of Information John Morabito announced that there will be presidential and vice-presidential debates to be held Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. There will be a box at the front desk in the Memorial Union for students to submit their questions to the candidates.

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