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This Week in Senate: USA ponders its identity

By Patrick Healy, Managing Editor

Dressed in red and pink and dining on Chick-fil-A sandwiches and salads, the Undergraduate Student Association (USA) senate convened for their weekly Tuesday meeting on Valentine’s Day.

USA President Jahare Hudson began the meeting by delivering his State of the USA address. He challenged senators to be even better student leaders and role models for their peers. He asked, “When we walk into a room, are we exuding love?” In conclusion, he called for “a student government built on love and compassion.”

After the speech, which lasted about five minutes, the Senate approved a budget appeal made by the Latin American Students and Friends (LASAF) club. Any appeal for fewer than $1,000 can be passed by the Finance Board without approval by the Senate, but because LASAF requested more than $1,000, their appeal required approval by the Senate. This rule was implemented for this year’s Senate in order to streamline the appeal process for most club appeals while still ensuring the Senate has oversight over large expenditures.

J.U.S.T.I.C.E. Chair Hawa Saleh reminded senators of ongoing campaigns by her committee, including a winter coat drive, a campaign to put period products in campus bathrooms and a campaign to collect donations for the victims of the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

Student Interests Chair Carlo Mastrodonato reported that Thursdays in the Quad will be on April 20, April 27 and May 4. Public Health Chair Gabby Kaderli announced that her committee has worked to add 2.5- and 5-pound barbells to the Palisano gym. In addition, Kaderli’s committee will partner with the Sustainability Committee, chaired by Genevieve Fontana, to push for drinking fountains to be added to residence halls. Fontana said her committee is also focusing on reducing single-use plastics this semester.

Next, Executive Vice President Jill Galanti reviewed potential updates to the USA election process, including fewer required signatures and opportunities for public speeches by candidates. The Senate passed the new procedures unanimously.

The Senate then broke into four groups, each led by an executive board member, to discuss which values USA should embody. The senate will discuss the results of those discussions next week when more members are in attendance.

Finally, the Senate moved into a discussion about how best to portion their required office hours. Executive Vice President Galanti, who coordinates office hours, is seeking to get senators to more campus events or at least have their office hours in the library rather than in the USA office. Senators responded positively to the option to attend club events in place of office hours.

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