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The Blue & Gray Press | August 21, 2019

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Student senate begins after confusion in voting process


After a delay, the University of Mary Washington’s Student Senate is officially in session. Led by Senate President Nate Levine, the 40 member senate elected Vice President Margot Jelinek, and passed its first motion on September 25th.

Becca Gottfried, junior psychology major said her bill “is to get a trash can placed in front of Marshall.” She feels that a trash can placed in front of this residence hall would help with the litter problem and support the “Butts Are Litter Too” campaign.

The Senate hiatus has not gone unnoticed by some students.

According to Levine, there was a certain amount of confusion associated with the interpretation of the article in the senate constitution pertaining to how senators become elected.

In the past, students who wished to become senators had to obtain 50 signatures from their peers and be elected onto the senate by a single vote from the senate president.

This year, it was determined that the proper interpretation of the constitution required senators to be elected by the entire student body.

“The students who obtained their 50 signatures before the university-wide election held between Sept. 17 and 19 were placed on the same ballot as the Honor Council and Judicial Review Board candidates so that they also could be elected by their peers during those dates,” said Stephanie Preston, senior history major and SGA president.

Ultimately, this process was deemed inefficient by the members of student senate. In order to change this process, the Senate’s Constitutional Orders Committee must review the article and then revise it.

Preston said the revised article should make it “easier for students to join the senate, while still beholding them to a constituency.”

Levine said that that is what the 50 signatures are for.

Levine hopes the committee will revise the election rules, ultimately making it constitutionally acceptable for the election process to be done in the same manner as the Senate elections in the years past: with 50 signatures and an affirmative vote from the Senate President.

According to Levine, “the Student Senate needs to be expanded,” and a streamlined election process would likely help growth.

“The senate is currently growing, but it could be so much larger,” said Levine. “A larger senate would more fully represent the student constituency and would provide more productive dialogues and debates on the issues that matter most to students.

Some students wonder if an easier election process is the best thing for the Senate.

Freshman senator Lauren Rainford said that “the election process is already pretty laid-back, and the laid-back nature of the elections parallels the current environment of the Student Senate.”

She said a more rigorous election process, one that causes aspiring senators to work for a seat in senate, could invigorate the senatorial environment and ultimately enliven debate and discussion.

Levine said that while these concerns have merit, there does not seem to be a lack of energy or commitment to the constituents in the current senate.

The senate’s number one goal is to increase the UMW student populations representation in student government, according to Levine.