Yesterday’s Student Senate meeting lasted two and a half hours, as senators debated issues such as bylaws, the recognition of new clubs and possible new majors.
The meeting kicked off with URI’s Provost Donald DeHayes, and the Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Issues Anne Veeger, giving the senate a presentation and encouraging discussion on topics brought up in the presentation.
A good amount of the discussion with DeHayes and Veeger involved mental health first-aid training, and making it more available to students as it becomes a more prominent issue.
“If there’s only one thing you remember that I said today,” DeHayes stated, “I hope you think about this mental health first aid because it is a crisis in America.”
Senators seemed to listen to this. Senator Donna Osgood said that she would try to add in the mental health first-aid training in some organizations and Instruments Chair John Bagley proposed it as one of his many proposed changes to the Student Senate constitution.
Additionally, DeHayes and Veeger also introduced the idea of a possible student summit to be held. The summit would focus on looking at problems at URI from a student’s perspective, and DeHayes urged Student Senate to spread the word about the possible event.
The Senate also introduced ten bills to the floor yesterday. Out of those ten, however, only one was voted on. This was a resolution that was approved. The resolution was “calling for the endorsement of Feminist URI’s and Sexuality and Gender Alliance’s Gender Inclusive Initiate,” according to the Student Senate agenda. The resolution was handled by Cultural Chair Lulu Alryati, who motioned to vote on the bill immediately instead of holding off until the next meeting.
The Gender Inclusive Initiate is meant to solve an ongoing problem at URI, namely the issue of the lack of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. A group of transgender students had already talked with the Senate in a previous meeting, and the bill was for Senate to join the upwards of 1,000 other people who were in favor of passing it. This issue was one that URI President David Dooley had said would be resolved back in 2013, but very little progress had been made in making bathrooms gender-neutral since then.
Eighteen senators voted in favor of the bill, passing the required 15 for the bill to be approved. Four senators abstained and no senators rejected it.
The majority of the other bills being introduced to the Senate were done by SOC Chair Austyn Ramsey. These bills included the recognition of Pi Sigma Pi, an honors fraternity, Alpha Phi Sigma, a fraternity for criminology and criminal justice students, the Ukrainian Club, Sojourn Collegiate Ministry, which describes itself as a “Christian community that helps students discover God’s dream for their lives,” Shark Club and Pharmacognosy Club.
The other bills introduced were a bill calling to give $1,275 to the URI Judo Club, a bill calling for changes to the Student Senate Finance Handbook and a bill introduced by Bagley about changing some rules within the Student Senate’s constitution. There will be no Senate meeting next Wednesday, as Thanksgiving Break will have started. The Senate will reconvene for their final meeting of the semester on Wednesday, Dec. 4.