Session of February 15, 2018
February 15, 2018
Minutes Recorded by: Daniel Yohe, Secretary
Visitors: Kevin Boatman, Steve Conn
Call to Order at 11:01 AM
Senator Cochrane opens session with prayer
Approval of Minutes
Senator Imken: Under debate, I more specifically asked if those were going to be steaming hot Domino's one topping pizzas.
Minutes approved at 11:04 AM
PPT Foust: Due to absences, I am removing Zach Nortch from Senate.
Senator Bechard: FAC has budgeted money for clubs this semester. Several clubs have yet to send information we have requested. If some clubs don't end up wanting money, we will spread the rest of the money to other clubs that did apply. A slide for last year’s appropriations is made and will be presented later. As far as t-shirts are concerned, I have money from several people. Come talk to me if you want a shirt or already bought one, as I now have list of names from Gibby.
VP Largent: Is there a deadline on that?
Senator Bechard: The end of February. Make it a late, late Valentine's gift to yourself.
Senator Bechard motions to add Senators Reid and Ladner to roll.
Senator Gorton seconds
Senator Bechard motions to bring bill to floor
SP18-SB6 – “On-Time Club Funding Bill of Spring 2018” read
Senator Vanecko: Why are we giving clubs all this extra time? I thought that was the purpose of the deadline.
Senator Bechard: There was at least one club that did not get the email until after the deadline, the Swim Club. Others are late and I am giving them 10 days. As of yesterday, we said if it wasn’t in it's too late. We've done funding bills parts 1,2, and 3 in the past. We need to be respectful of the fact that students have things going on and some people don’t manage time well. I feel that those clubs deserve to be funded, but they need a chance. The ones who come in later and later, I will email their club sponsor. The information may not have gotten to the club, so I'm trying to find out what is going on. I'll contact their sponsors for answers on club existence and funding need. Yesterday was the permanent deadline. I'm just trying to be nice, no other reason.
VP Largent: To expound, only one club was actually late.
PPT Foust: I want to add that a couple of clubs had turned in budgets but hadn’t been recognized yet, so we couldn't give them money unless until they are recognized.
VP Largent: Executive Cabinet debates are tonight at 7. There will be pizza, and you can hear from your candidates.
Kevin Boatman presents YAC budget.
Senator Reid: Quick question about compensation. Does the number of YAC employees fluctuate? Also, how much does each get paid?
Kevin Boatman: Every YAC employee except the president is paid same, 500 a semester. Same for every person on YAC. If there were less employees, the compensation number would go down. This year, that is what we had budgeted, and we actually have a part time YAC member. If we have less people, money will be reallocated to another event or something.
Senator Reid: So you have 6 employees?
Kevin Boatman: Yes.
VP Largent: I've heard rumors that Shrek 2 will not be shown at the drive in.
Kevin Boatman: We cannot purchase rights for that, so it is most likely going to be Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail. Also, I will not reveal where the mystery bus is going. Hootenanny is going to be awesome this year, Marcus Miller will be MC for that. AucoustiCafé will happen once this semester. We will have a flea market, which is an event of my own creation. Hopefully it will become an annual thing. Graduating seniors have a lot of things like a couch or fridge, so hopefully they can buy, sell, and trade those items. It will be a fun activity for floors. It will be a massive flea market to pawn off books, computers, crutches, whatever. No dorm furniture.
Senator Bechard: Not so much about events, but how much are you receiving from general allocation? I wanted to make sure if $13,350 is the total 25%.
VP Largent: That is about right.
Senator Bechard presents a report on Senate's spending from last semester.
No questions on the report.
Senator Spiers: I am wanting to bring a few issues forward to initiate discussion, which will hopefully end up putting forth legislation and amendments. We have had problems with meeting quorum and under-representation. This is the 5th senate I have been involved with at a collegiate level. There is a pessimistic outlook I have received inside and outside of Senate as to whether Senate can be effective. I don’t believe these views are accurate, and I don't think we are in a stale position. To do so, I think we need to discuss this and put forth an idea that may help. The ratio of students to Senate is about 1:25, and that is a high ratio. It is a highly impractical percentage for people to be a member and participate. I propose that we increase that ratio, perhaps make voting districts by hall rather than floor. A ratio of 1:40 is the lowest effective ratio I’ve seen at other schools. As far as under-representation, we could allow people from other districts to run, giving preference to those within the districts. This would increase competition, and we could find people who care and will interact. These will be people more likely to attend, making it more easy to fill seats and will create a smaller, more active portion of Senate.
Senator Reid: I have a couple of questions. You say you have been involved in 5 collegiate Senates?
Senator Spiers: Yes, all in the Austin area. Most of which are a similar size to LeTourneau so I think they are applicable.
Sergeant-at-Arms Jobe: It is important to recognize the majors of a majority of students on campus. A vast majority are engineers or aviation students. Very few people have the time to contribute significantly.
Senator Spiers: That is definitely accurate, and the amount of senators does not reflect the people who may be interested or able to serve.
Senator Ladner: A lot of us are STEM majors and are here to get a good education. I know that as far as the nursing department goes, some programs count homework time as clinicals, but we require both. There is more stress and strain here. We don't have as much time to put into extracurriculars as other schools. It is understandable for people to not be able to put in the time.
Senator Reid: Two quick things. As an aviation major, we are truly busy. I spend about 99% of my time off campus. While yes we may be less involved, the time we do commit is used very well. I did everything I could with the time I had to put forth to Senate. I think that we do participate quite a bit, but our involvement just may be at erratic times.
Senator Bechard: I agree with you in the sense of the number of people. My major concern is that there are not enough people who want to be involved. In regard to commuters, there are 6 spots open. Some people lack the time management skills in order to coincide school and this along with family. Senate needs to do something so we don’t seem like a joke. Senate is not a joke, and I want to see Senate respected on its own merit and each individual senator respected. This means going to people, talking to them, and getting them engaged. It's a lot of work, hard to get commuters, but I think it's an opportunity for Senate to grow. With 1,100 student, that’s about 44 senators, we have just over 20.
VP Largent: The ratio is actually 2:25, once you are over 25 for a floor you get a second senator, over 50 a third.
Senator Nutt: I would just like to point out that it's not that people don't have the time. Looking back at attendance for fall of 2015, most senators attended and we had over 40 senators. Something happened, and people are not as involved anymore.
Senator Spiers: Senator Reid, you are aviation but you are active and involved. There are about 20 people in this room today, and this reflects what our actual active Senate looks like. The point is to make it a bit of a challenge to get to Senate so we have more active members. Also, there is currently a concentration of where senators are. It is not equally spread out.
Senator Vanecko: In regards to time and attendance, people typically resign because of not having time. People want to participate but most resignation letters say they don’t have time. This is indicative that people are interested but don’t have time. I am not in a committee this year because I don’t have time for it, but I still want to be involved and my floor would be unrepresented otherwise. The thing I don’t understand, how would changing the ratio make Senate more competitive? The people here are the ones who want to be here. We have open spots, people can join.
Senator Spiers: The intent here is not to increase the number of senators, but to increase the overall effectiveness of Senate. Effectively, we have a smaller Senate than the number of people. If we reduced the number of seats with a larger running pool, we'll create more competition. With a smaller amount of seats, there is a higher chance of the people coming on board being people who have time or willingness to be here.
Senator Reid: I like the idea, and am not trying to sabotage it. I'm trying to look at practicability. You said you view me as active member, but I view my fellow Senator Imken as a more active member. Since we are on the same floor, this could bump one of us out. While some people aren’t as involved, they are still contributing. If we have less people, there will be more work for those who are left.
Senator Ladner: I don’t think changing the voting block is a good idea. South Hall currently has 6 senators. There are people in other parts of South Hall that I barely know, and I feel like if we changed districts I'd be trying to represent people who I don’t even know.
VP Largent: Here we have very distinct floor cultures, and this is reflected voting record-wise. A prime example is the security camera resolution. 41 voted very different than T1 or T3. Floors change so much even in each hall that per hall representation is not a good idea.
PPT Foust: I think floor-based representation is best, since that’s how this school works. Floors that aren’t super focused on floor culture are still more so than most schools. Another concern is a lot of the time we have an unfortunate turnover rate, but you get a lot of senators, myself included, that join and want to get involved and then rise up in the ranks. I began not knowing what it is to be PPT, but here I am. In a way, I can see where you are coming from, but people might not take competition seriously and it may make less people interested. I do think it is an interesting idea.
Senator Gorton: Thank you for bringing the issue up. I agree with Andrew, for an unpaid position putting Senator voting by hall would increase workload and make this seem not worth it. I feel like if people are interested, we can bring people to meetings. If people want to help, they can come. The reputation of Senate needs to be built up slowly.
Senator Nutt: A couple of things. On the topic of less senators equals more work, several committees as I know are at their minimums. FAC and Constitution are operating at a minimum, same with Elections. Committees are low, and people in committees are doing more work than back when we had 40 senators. For 4 straight semesters a couple of years ago, we had 40 senators, even though we had people graduating and moving on. One semester, we were down to 18, and went back up. This is based on records up on the wiki.
Senator Spiers: The reason I put this in is to get us thinking. I am encouraging as much rebuttal as possible to get people thinking and thinking of writing a bill to make this a recurring topic. I do believe that the amount of resources is an issue. If we changed the ratio, it would not have as much affect on output as we might believe. Floor culture is very important, and Senate has been more effective at what we intend to do that it may seem. I see 3 problems: attendance (quorum), making sure everyone is represented (distribution of senators), and making sure that each senator is effective. If we don’t care, then no one is going to take us seriously.
VP Largent: This is a good discussion, and clearly we have had some attendance problems this semester and last. I like the discussion. We should probably make this a continuing role of the Elections committee. Maybe you guys can have talks after the election of how to improve this.
Sergeant-at-Arms Jobe: Rather than a bill, a resolution might be a better format.
Senator Ladner: On the note that this is an issue, we have talked about it in interviews with potential VP's. We want people to see that student government cares before they get to Tyler and hear something not nice about it.
VP Largent: If you have a class at 12, you are dismissed.
Senator Bechard: As FAC funds clubs, maybe we can make a requirement that they recognize that student Senate is funding them, so they can do advertisement for us. I think we need the ability to effectively communicate between student government and administration. Steve [Conn], if we increase effectiveness in communication that will lead to more involvement. Is there another way to increase effectiveness in communication besides you coming here and listening in sessions?
Steve Conn: I think that “the problem” with breakdown in communication is unintentionality of both sides. You guys need to decide what you want and say it. You can meet with anyone in Student Life, but I’m just the person on the schedule to be here. I try to help facilitate. What I get is that sometimes I hear people want “better campus unity”, but how do you want me to do that? I think if you decided as Senate what you wanted exactly you would have no problem being heard.
Senator Reid: Basically, the problem is that people bring up a problem without a solution and there is no follow up?
Steve Conn: I think that is an accurate summary.
Senator Gorton motions to adjourn.
Senator Beckham seconds.
Meeting Adjourned at 11:54 AM