Article written for Ed Rice's class
October 21, 2010
Thirty-five seconds goes by without a single sound. The room is filled with college students who have been given an open forum to voice their opinions, but for once they are speechless.
On October 18, 2010 the Husson University and New England School of Communications (NESCom) student government's senate meeting took place in Peabody at 9 p.m.
Chris Stevenson, Vice President, began the meeting alongside the other four Husson students on the executive board.
Kelsey Tucker, Secretary, projected a Word document onto the white board with the agenda for the meeting which included: updates from all executive board members except for Treasurer, going over the approval of an attendance policy for the executive board and then an open discussion about the issues on campus that the senate members find to be important.
The attendance policy was projected on the screen in another Word document as Matt Teague, President, explained its key points.
"The senate cannot miss more than three unexcused absences, and we in the executive board think we need to be held to a higher standard [than the senate] since that is what our job entails."
A copy of the document was passed around to the 20 representatives and advisor in attendance, Anne Schmidt. The senate voted in favor of the attendance policy.
Tucker projected a new Word document onto the screen with a list of concerns and issues that the members of the senate submitted prior as campus concerns that were to be discussed at the meeting. She asked the senate if there were any specific issues they wanted to discuss.
This was the time where it became an open forum and every representative was given the opportunity to voice any concerns or issues.
Thirty-five seconds of silence passed before Ubed Rimvil, VP of Commuter Affairs, spoke up.
"I think that we need some more diversity and cultural events. There are lots of people at [Husson] from all over the world and the country, and it would be good to have more things go on to help embrace diversity."
Tucker added that issue to the list and then brought up one of the issues listed that she felt strongly about.
"I think that we really need benches in the showers." She continued, "I am in Hart and I don't even have a hook. It would be great to have a bench to put our stuff down on."
Tucker's statement sparked discussion with the senate and led to members of the senate bringing up a variety of topics such as campus parking, sharper knives in the dining commons, Internet service, financial aid for Pharmacy students, signs at Husson, keys for all dorm buildings, microwaves etc.
When the topic for sharper knives was brought up Tyler Allen, one of the five NESCom students in the senate, took a stance of opposition.
"We don't need sharper knives. Do you know how much stuff gets stolen from the [Dickerman Dining Commons (DDC)]? Do we really want people being able to steal sharp knives?"
As more concerns were brought up regarding the DDC Schmidt informed the group that the DDC will be undergoing a $4 million renovation in the near future.
Rimvil addressed the concerns for dorm building keys by explaining a new idea that talks about the involvement of "scanning cards to get into the building."
The senate members were able to vote for the topics that they considered to be the most important. The voting was conducted through a count of hand raises. Members could raise a hand for as many topics on the list as they pleased.
The issue that was unanimously voted the most important topic was fixing the Internet.
Teague ended the meeting at 9:29 p.m. after the votes had been tallied.
The following day Teague explained the structure of meeting in greater detail.
"That was the third senate representative meeting. The number of students in the senate is based on the size of the school, that is why NESCom has five out of the 20. The senate is mostly made up of sophomores who live on campus, but there are a few commuters. The meetings usually run for 45 minutes to an hour, but last night's meeting was short."
NESCom students are eligible to apply to be on the executive board, but in the last election none of the students ran.
He is able to elaborate on one of the issues that has an effect on all a large majority of students and is constantly complained about: parking.
"The senate is working on parking in a different approach. We are talking to administration and interviewing security to talk about how it could be, or what ideas we have to help change and make it better - instead of just demanding and complaining about it to the administration," Teague said.
The meetings always have an advisor to oversee the meeting.
"Sometimes it is Anne (Schmidt) like it was last night or it is Pamela Kropp-Anderson. She is the Assistant Dean of Students at Husson and they attend to see another perspective or way around aside from just students," Tucker said.
Schmidt has been one of the four student government advisors for the 14 months that she has been at Husson although her formal title is Coordinator of Student Activities.
She makes sure that everything goes smoothly with the meetings.
"I like that the students have so many ideas and goals; it is very good. I help to bring their ideas to a realistic level and help prioritize. They do such a good job," she said.
She recalls one of the most important ideas that was discussed at the meeting was the need for signs and how the students have already done so much to make improvements.
"The sign in the front of campus looks a lot nicer thanks to the students. Last night the students were talking about that we need better signs around campus, and that's a great idea."
NESCom senate representatives Rachel Clark and Tyler Allen both feel that although there are only five NESCom representatives the two schools are treated equally within the meetings.
"The meetings are based on campus related things, and if there is a specific problem that needs to be addressed then one of the senate members will bring it up. Sometimes one of the topics covered might mostly relate to NESCom students, and other nights there could be a topic that applies more to Husson students," Clark explains.
Allen would be the first to speak up if NESCom students were being treated as second class citizens and enjoys being able to participate in meetings.
"I speak up when I have to, and if there's something that I think needs to be said I'll say it. I think that NESCom students and Husson students have equal opportunity in the meetings. I would speak up if I didn't think that the two were being treated fair." Allen continues, "I won't participate in it next semester; I was a write-in on the ballot when senate was being voted for. I do think that issues like parking need to get taken care of right away and that there are more topics that need to be concentrated on."