December 13, 2017

Congress Updates

by Connor Nolan ‘19

Student Congress Publicity

Old Business

The first piece of old business presented before the congress called for appointing a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council as a liaison to Student Congress. The piece passed and a new liaison will be welcomed to the congress shortly.

The second piece of old business presented before the congress regarded the establishment of a rule that would stop anyone on campus from reserving the great room in Aquinas past 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.  The piece is aimed at creating more study environments for students as the room is often unable to be used for studying while events are happening.  Some members of congress did not see the need for this piece, citing ample study spaces in other buildings at most times other than midterms and finals.  Although many on congress spoke against the bill, the piece did pass.

New Business

The first new piece of legislation presented at the meeting regarded the formation of a Pre-Law Society on campus.  The presenters offered many reasons why the club is very necessary including connecting with industry professionals in law careers and filling a need that is not fully met by the school administration. They hope to connect the various members of the Providence College community who plan to apply to law school, as well as educating underclassmen in the field.

Another club presented on Tuesday hoping to gain accreditation on campus was PC Love Letters.  The presenters spoke extensively on the inspiration and meaning behind the club, alluding to a speaker who recently presented on campus and her mission.  Hannah Brencher presented earlier this semester on campus regarding her program The World Needs More Love Letters.  Members of congress commended the presenters and saw the importance of support systems such as these on campus.

A piece of legislation was presented regarding the implementation of a candidate information form to be filled out by congress applicants.  If someone is running for an elected position within congress they will be asked to fill out a short 20-word form. The presenter spoke on the importance of this piece, saying it is important for people to know who they are voting for, especially freshman who have only been on campus a short time before their first election. It seemed as though members of congress were receptive to the idea, but the presenter was questioned as to if it was possible for it to be implemented on Sakai in its current format.

Another piece of legislation presented before the congress that has been worked on for a long time pertained to the creation of an environmental biology major at the College.  The objective is to have it implemented as a formal major as of fall 2018.  It is backed by many professors at the college who deem it a necessary and vital major.  The academics committee of the congress has worked closely with administration in presenting this piece, and the congress seemed very receptive to the idea.

The next piece of new business presented before the congress pertained to an amendment that had been passed in recent weeks that dealt internally with congress’ use of a service hour requirement. This new piece sought to deal with the idea of “mandatory events” deemed by the executive board.  The presenter of the piece wished to ensure that this would never be taken advantage of by a sitting executive board in the future.  Instead, the presenter wishes for there to be a vote to veto mandatory events if they are seen as unnecessary by the members of congress.  It would need to be a 2/3 majority vote to veto the decision. Some believed it odd to create legislation for something that may or may not happen in the future with some saying the congress would have larger issues if an executive board in the future was making these sort of decisions, and the discussion continued as to whether or not this was necessary or an indictment on the trust put in the executive board.

Another piece of important legislation was presented on Tuesday regarding the formation of a committee within the congress called SCITE (Supporting Change and Inclusiveness Towards Equality.)  The main goals of the committee would be: to reach out to organizations on campus and ask what congress can do to help them reach their goals and missions. To support, facilitate, organize, and promote campus wide protests and events focused on social justice issues. To put on events that provide education, resources and support to students that encourages and promotes human flourishing on campus.  The presenters spoke of the need for this committee, saying that congress has not done as well as it should in these areas and that it would be a great way to help promote diversity and inclusion on campus.  It was questioned as to why this would not be included as a part of student life which is already a committee on congress. It was also made clear that this committee would deal with all people on campus, not just a select group.  Many feared that this may step on the toes of activist groups on campus, some of whom are also members of the congress. Some of these points led to some hotly contested discussion on both sides.  The piece will be voted upon in the next general meeting.

The last piece of new business brought forward during the meeting pertained to an old piece of legislation that was no longer being adhered to by the congress regarding the approval of committee appointees. Congress committee members are chosen through an interview process led by the members of the executive board.  The legislation had stated that each committee head should have a single vote each to approve the selections.  It is seen as a sort of check on executive power.

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