Senate general body meeting March 4 recap

At the Senate general body meeting on March 4, the Senate discussed special allocations for the Spring Theater conducted by the Awareness of Roots in Chinese Culture (ARCC) club, a fiscal policy override, an elections rules override concerning percentage minimums, and a discussion with administrators on exams during the pandemic.

Awareness of Roots in Chinese Culture requested special allocation funds for their Spring Theater performance, which will happen virtually this year. The funds would go to purchasing video services, promoting the event, purchasing costumes, and shipping costumes to domestic and international members. A modified version of their special allocations request that excluded items that the Joint Funding Committee (JFC) has previously funded passed 15 to 0 to 1.

The Senate also discussed diverting money from the JFC Capital Fund Account in order to more greatly benefit the student body. The JFC Capital Fund Account is only to be used by clubs for long-term purposes, typically items that will be needed for at least three years or more. Money in the account cannot be taken out easily, and due to the pandemic, fewer clubs have been requesting funds from this account: less than $10,000 have been withdrawn, and $264,000 remain. The proposal would override article IV, section 3B of Student Government Fiscal Policy for the spring semester to leave the $150,000 originally allocated to the JFC Capital Fund Account in the JFC Main Account instead, which has fewer restrictions for usage than the Capital Fund Account. The proposal passed 15 to 0 to 1.

As it is currently the General Election season, some senators were concerned with the process of setting percentage minimums after the single transferable vote (STV), proposing to instead have the percentage minimums set before the STV process. As described in article V of Student Government Elections Rules, percentage minimums refer to the minimum amount of votes from both undergraduate and graduate students required that, combined with the votes that the candidate received, determines the winner of the election. This policy was adopted in order to encourage candidates running for office to reach out to both the undergraduate and graduate populations. The senators introducing the proposal hoped that assessing percentage minimums before the STV process would lead to a more transparent and fair process. However, some senators expressed that while they felt the existing percentage minimum policy was ambiguous, moving it before the STV process would not solve its issues. One issue is that percentage minimum calculations must be able to be written as a program by the Student Government Chief Technical Officer, which, if the percentage minimum policy is too vague, is not always possible. With a vote of 0 to 15 to 2, the resolution was voted down.

The Senate also held a discussion around potentially changing the current examination policy with Vice Provost for Education Amy Burkert and Associate Vice President and Director of Enrollment Services and International Programs Lisa Krieg. Burkert and Krieg are two of many in a group formed to examine the current examination policy, which is 18 years old. The group is focusing on how to modernize the exam policy, make exam scheduling and notices more timely, and emphasize flexibility, not only with respect to exam windows and timing but also alternative formats for assessment outside of exams, such as projects. Burkert and Krieg then asked senators for their input on how the examination policy could be changed. Senators argued there was a disproportionate weight put on tests in many classes, and hoped the examination policy group would encourage professors to make exam schedules more flexible to reduce time pressure.