At Senate on Monday an amendment to the ASCMC Constitution was proposed regarding a significant re-structuring of Senate. Ian O’Grady, Chair of the Administrative and Budgetary Committee, stressed that the amendment “is designed to increase interest among the student body on top of encouraging current Senators to deepen their involvement.”
It also aims to tackle a recurring problem within Senate: dorm representation. Technically, a formal candidacy is to be voted on by dorm, but often there is little to no representation from a substantial number of dorms. For that reason, O’Grady mentioned that the amendment “will also ensure that we have an enforceable system of representation by dorm–representing the interests of those who don’t necessarily go to Senate.”
The proposal stipulates that 13 Senators would be elected by their dorms to serve as “Dorm Senators,” responsible for holding two weekly hours of Office Hours in their dorm, meeting with the RA or Dorm President on a regular basis, and attending Senate. Dorm Senator elections, according to the proposal, are to be held along with Dorm President elections and are to be overseen by the rest of the Vice President’s Cabinet.
Once elected, Dorm Senators would be compensated for their efforts with a weekly stipend of $10 or $20 as well as subjected to an absence policy. The elected Senator would be permitted to miss no more than three consecutive Senate meetings, and no more than five in total. Should a Dorm Senator exceed the allowed number of missed meetings, a fine would be imposed on the Senator’s dorm.
The amendment calls for Dorm Senators to be included in a ‘Vice President’s Cabinet,’ along with the respective Chairs of the Administrative and Budgetary, Academic Affairs, Tech, and Campus Improvement Committees. O’Grady described the Vice Presidents Cabinet as “a place where Senate Committee Chairs update the VP and work together on joint projects.” The Committee Chairs would also receive a stipend, and would be responsible for working on their projects throughout the summer. O’Grady said that typically, “projects start in the spring, just after Chairs are appointed, and develop through the summer so as to hit the ground running in September.”
The final detail of the re-structuring would include the addition of no more than two additional Policy Advisors, appointed by the Vice President, who would not receive a stipend of any sort. Once formed, the Cabinet would have the option of convening with a minimum of seven members (VP, 4 Chairs, 2 Policy Advisors), or a maximum of 20 members (VP, 4 Chairs, 2 Policy Advisors, 13 Dorm Senators). The Dorm Senators would also have the option of attending Cabinet meetings on a rotating basis so as to keep the Cabinet at a manageable size while having a representative from North, Mid, and South Quad present at all times.
In response to a query regarding the potential for this re-structuring to unintentionally decrease attendance and participation, O’Grady stated that, “the plan mandates the Dorm Senators to represent their dorms at Exec Board and Vice President Cabinet meetings–other venues that other Senators do not have to attend. Furthermore, there is no distinction between Dorm Senators and other Senators within Senate.”
Ultimately, the amendment is an effort to facilitate more transparency between the students and ASCMC, as represented by the dorms and Senate. Dorm Senators will effectively play the role of liaison between the students and Senate, akin to the way that Resident Assistants liaise between students in their dorms and the Dean of Students Office. Students on campus, both those who attend Senate and those who don’t, will be able to approach designated representatives to learn more about Senate, Senate’s operations, and Senate’s issues.