Senate Notes: Senate ‘Looking Forward to Exciting Semester’

Gin Dumcius

The Student Senate’s first meeting of the spring semester was headlined by the continuation of old initiatives and the jump-starting of new ones, as the Senate prepares to bolster its roster with new blood.

President Joseph Panciotti reported that senators have been doing a lot of recruiting, and there is a “greater interest than in previous years” in student government. This was evident when Vice President Tuan Pham and Senator Hyppolite manned a table in McCormack during first week festivities, promoting the Senate and handing out nomination forms.

The Campus and Community Affairs Committee is leading the charge to fill the current vacancies in the Senate, said CCA Chair Fritz Hyppolite. CCA, the public relations arm of the Senate and one of its most powerful committees, is also involved in creating a Senate newsletter, due out sometime mid-February, in an effort to counter reports in The Mass Media last semester of the Senate’s constant conflicts over policy and precedent.

Nominations forms are available in the Office of Student Life, the Student Government Association Office on Wheatley Hall’s fourth floor, and in downloadable form on the SGA’s website. The website will be “fully operational in 2 weeks” according to the Senate’s Network Administrator, Skye Rhyddyd. “The Home page is up and has about 1/3rd of its links operational,” she wrote in a memo to senators. The URL is

President Panciotti also announced that Vice President Pham, Student Trustee Heather Dawood, Budget and Finance Chair Omar Bukhari, and Ms. Rhyddyd have been appointed to the Senate’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Elections. The campus-wide elections are to be held in April.

The Committees of the Board of Trustees have met several times over winter break to discuss issues of recruitment and keeping students in school, reported Student Trustee Dawood, citing financial burden as the number one reason students leave the campus. The Board of Trustees meets on the UMass Boston campus on February 12, at 11am.

Senator J. Stone Laraway has resigned from the Senate, citing academic reasons. President Panciotti accepted the resignation on behalf of the Senate, and thanked the senator for his service. Mr. Laraway was the center of controversy last semester, at one time threatening to sue the Senate if he was not recognized as acting chair of CCA, and getting into arguments over interpretations of Robert’s Rules of Order, the guidebook governing bodies use to set rules for holding meetings.

Funding Requests:

$1,350 was granted to the Black Student Center for a trip to the 6th Annual Haitian Conference at UMass Amherst from February 21-23, part of a series of conferences called “Blood, Sweat, and Tears,” done in conjunction with Black History Month. Twenty students from different organizations are going, five from the Haitian-American Society, five from the BSC, and two from Casa Latina among them.

The motion to approve the money was introduced during Committee Reports, which isn’t normally done, and lead to some confusion.

Trustee Dawood asked whether this motion was being made by the Student Events and Organizations Committee (SEOC) right now, or being held off until new business.

“Yes,” answered President Panciotti.

Trustee Dawood asked again, “Are we voting to put it on new business, or are we voting on it now?”

“We are introducing this as a motion. This has not been our practice in the past, so I can see the confusion of some people. Normally, we handle this under new business,” said President Panciotti, referring to the agenda.

Vice President Pham said that the conference would be a “great experience,” but that it needed to go through committee to see whether it’s an appropriate event for student funds. “I’m being given ten minutes to vote on it,” he said, complaining about the lack of time.

Emphasizing that it was a time sensitive issue, Senator and SEOC Chair Moreno pointed out that it didn’t have a chance to go through committee, because the committee hadn’t met over break, and there weren’t any senators attending besides her and Senator Robert Comerford.