Student Senate introduced bylaw changes that address confusions about the election system, vacancies and the transition between exec boards for each year at their meeting last Thursday in the Alumni Room in Old Main.
Senate will vote on the introduced changes at their next meeting, as well as introduce additional changes that will be voted on next week.
The proposed changes add three new sections to the bylaws: Section 7 on elections, Section 8 on vacancies and Section 9 on training. The section on amendments will now be Section 10 if the changes are approved.
The new sections use bylaws from other sections, collecting rules about elections and vacancies from other parts of the document.
Section 7 on elections includes requirements for the Executive Board positions and the rules for campaigning. It also establishes run-off elections if the original election results in a tie.
Section 8 codifies the process for filling vacancies. General Assembly positions would be filled by a campus-wide special election. For an Executive Committee member, the President would present potential nominees to the Executive Board. If approved by the board, the nominee would then be voted on by the General Assembly. If the presidency becomes vacant, the vice president will be interim president and organize a student-wide special election.
The proposed new process is close to what was followed during Winter Term when a series of resignations led to multiple Executive Committee and General Assembly vacancies. At the time, Senate suspended a bylaw in order to hold an internal election for treasurer due to contradictory bylaws and clauses in the Constitution.
Section 9 holds the most completely new additions. It establishes the process for training the incoming exec and general assembly. The section includes requiring two Diversity and Leadership Transition Training sessions hosted by the Diversity Chair and the Director of the Center for Intercultural Life (which will be renamed next school year). Each new exec member will “report on their individual takeaways” to the General Assembly.
The training will also include shadowing the outgoing officer and learning the constitution, bylaws and parliamentary procedure.
Student Senate Sustainability Chair and sophomore Caitlin Edelmuth described a new process for sustainability funds requests during her committee report. The process includes a standardized set of questions for the sustainability committee. Edelmuth explained that the committee had been mostly just discussing the proposals without any set structure to their discussions.
Edelmuth added the questions partly in response to Common Ground’s efforts to defund IVCF.
“The evaluation questions were actually in response to the IVCF/Common Ground – all of this stuff that’s been going on,” Edelmuth said in an interview with TKS. “… Sustainability, nothing that we do is gonna be, at least from my perspective, offensive or hurtful but there could at some point in the future a proposal that is in some way that I can’t think of right now.”
Senate additionally approved a new club and four funding requests. The Young Democratic Socialists of America was approved as a new club, as a chapter of a nationwide organization. Classics Club received $325 for their annual picnic, covering printing costs for posters and the classic play they perform as well as food expenses. Chinese Club received $95 for their dumpling night.
Ultimate Frisbee requested $2,000 to take the men’s and women’s teams to a tournament. They unexpectedly needed to take the women’s team too after some games from a prior tournament had been postponed due to snow. They additionally said they were planning to submit another funds request to go to nationals if they won the tournament but neither team ended up winning.
A sustainability funds request was also approved to purchase reusable water bottles for next year’s incoming class and interested returning students. The $10,521 will buy 1,002 water bottles.
During the public comment section of the meeting, three students from Common Ground spoke. Junior Ashley Kerley asked Senate to continue discussing how Senate and Knox could better support LGBTQ+ students, including the possibility of hiring a staff worker who would focus on the needs of the LGBTQ+ community.
In response, Senate added a 15-minute Q&A with Common Ground to the meeting. Following the discussion, Senate approved the creation of an ad-hoc committee for the remainder of the school year and going in to next year. The committee will look at how the school can better support LGBTQ+ students, especially the possibility raised of hiring a staff member.
Junior Teslin Penoyer used her public comment to teach Senate about the “gay/trans panic defense” which is a legal defense which argues the defendant was temporarily insane due to interacting with LGTBQ+ individuals. The defense is currently only banned in three states: California, Rhode Island and Illinois.
Senior Katie Goldstone-Hersch talked about her experience being a trans individual in Galesburg, including rarely leaving campus and being told she should leave Knox because she would be safer at home in California than in Galesburg.
Senate’s next meeting will be Thursday, May 2 at 7 p.m. in the Alumni Room in Old Main.