Senate Notes: Campus & Community Affairs Committee

An awkward moment between CCA and a Mass Media photographer.

Atha Demopoulos

An awkward moment between CCA and a Mass Media photographer.

Gin Dumcius

The Campus and Community Affairs Committee met on Wednesday, October 16 for a brief meeting, which was Senator J. Stone Laraway’s first as Acting Chair. The position of ombudsperson was discussed, as was the need to clean up the information boards, and Senator Fritz Hyppolite was welcomed on board.

“Insofar as this past Senate meeting, CCA has accomplished a lot of ground concerning the ombudsperson position. Putting all adversity aside, CCA must come together as a team and diligently work on this proposal. Our constituents, whom we represent, need us now more than ever. I want to make sure everyone is perfectly clear that this ombudsperson proposal is CCA’s number one priority,” wrote Senator Laraway in the agenda.

Senator Laraway mentioned an e-mail exchange he was having with Deborah Eerkes, the current ombudsperson for the University of Alberta in Canada. Laraway had met Ms. Eerkes during his trip down to the Center for Academic Integrity at the University of Virginia. Later, through e-mail, Laraway asked for advice regarding the ombudsperson position.

“Don’t fill the position until you have a position description, contract, bylaws, etc. written. We made that mistake a few years ago in creating a GS Ombuds and hiring before the position was finalized. There were disputes over the contract and the result was a messy dismissal and a day in court. Be sure you don’t rush into hiring someone,” Eerkes offered. “As long as there is somewhere that students can go for advice in the meantime (a Dean of Students or something like that), it’s better to be thorough than rushed.”

Eerkes also wrote, “If they do decide to go with a student or multiple positions, they must be assured that those students are free from conflict of interest issues (e.g. no student from student government can hold a position at the university that is non-partisan or neutral. Student government is, by it’s very definition, steeped in positions and interests. That would completely undermine any attempt at creating a trustworthy ombuds).”

On Friday, Senator Laraway said he was to have a telephone conference with Toni Robinson, a representative and member-at-large from the University and Colleges Ombudsman Association to explore the possibilities of joining the UCOA.

Info board clean-up was highlighted, because many of them have become cluttered with paper, unreadable, and not up-to-date. A clean-up day is to be designated at a later date for all senators to pitch in and clean the three 22×36 boards in the Wheatley, McCormack, and Quinn Administration buildings.

Senator Laraway apologized for mistakenly putting up posters advocating integrity and honesty during the midterms without CCA approval. The posters stated they were sponsored by the CCA when they were not. The CCA then voted to approve two of the three proposed posters: one quoting Edgar J. Mohn and another Baltasar Gracian.

Senator and Student Trustee Heather Dawood and Senator Paul Delaria both attended the meeting. Senator William Roach was thought to have been in the committee, but according to Senate President Panciotti, has never been voted in. Senator Roach sat in anyway, as did President Panciotti, who suggested that CCA work with the Budget & Finance Committee on the ombudsperson issue, to save a lot of work being done unnecessarily, and so that the Senate would be “speaking with one voice.”

Also covered during the meeting:

–Senator Laraway said of former Senator H. Todd Babbitt: “…We will truly miss then Senator Babbitt from our committee. Mr. Babbitt was an invaluable asset to our committee and our Senate.” Babbitt is formerly the chair of the CCA, having resigned at the October 9 Student Senate meeting.

–At one point during the meeting, Mass Media photographer Atha Dempoulos entered with a camera. Several senators objected to it, including Senator Delaria, but Dempoulos took a picture anyway, its flash illuminating the room. Senator Delaria, feeling it was an encroachment of his personal freedom, threatened to resign from the committee and resign from the Senate if it were to happen again. He gathered his things and left promptly afterwards. Senator Delaria could not be reached for comment at this time.

–A tape of the possibly illegal October 7 meeting of CCA has been obtained by The Mass Media and is currently being reviewed. Senator Laraway corrected his statement made in the previous issue, saying that Ms. Skye Rhyddyd was present at the meeting, but did not tape it; Vice President Tuan Pham did.

–No submissions have been made for the UMB Student Senate logo.