On Thursday, the Undergraduate Student Senate passed a bill that would redraw senate districting lines and discussed their plans for various initiatives they want to implement in the upcoming school year.
Redistricting the senate
A bill was passed that would redraw the senate district lines, and will be effective started the first day of class. The restructured senate will have 44 open seats, with districts representing first-generation students, transfer students, majors categorically split up according to the UNC website, undeclared majors, Greek life, off–campus housing and on–campus housing that includes Granville Towers. In total there are 13 districts, while three of the districts have over two seats.
Ashley Molesworth, a member of the rules and judiciary committee, co–sponsored the bill with Tarik Woods, committee chairperson of rules and judiciary committee. Senate Speaker Katharine Shriver shared a statement from Woods concerning the bill.
“One of the largest concerns was about the Greek Housing district, because of the lack of representation,” Woods stated. “We amended this part from Greek Housing district, in creating Greek Life district, so that we can add seats and do not have to proportionate to the number of people living in Greek Housing.”
The Greek Life district has five seats open.
Molesworth said students running for a senate seat are not allowed to switch majors, add a second major or misrepresent a constituency to take a seat. If a student is found utilizing these methods, they will be subject to an investigation by the ethics committee.
“That way there's no really strict rules that really limits students if they do want to switch majors, generally, it just allows them to be free with their studies and also participate,” Molesworth said. “And then obviously the next session they were running for they would run in their new district instead of the one they were running in.”
Shriver said she was excited the bill was passed, but is expecting it to change with amendments over the years.
“But at the spot where we are now, and where I want it to go, it's a good stepping point for this upcoming year,” Shriver said. “It's a step in the right direction. I think that I'm excited to finally start the beginning processes of recruiting new members for undergraduate senate. I want new faces. I want more than 15 members.”
Center for Civil Rights
The Student Body President’s Chief of Staff, Sarah Leck, shared a statement from Student Body President Elizabeth Adkins concerning the Board of Governor’s meeting she attended July 14 in Asheville. She stated her support for the UNC Center for Civil Rights and is against a proposal that would ban the Center’s right to litigate, represent clients and act as legal counsel.
“I crafted a letter in support of the UNC Center for Civil Rights that we mailed to every BOG member and shared with local news outlets and on social media,” Adkins stated. “The BOG's meeting on August 1st to consider the proposal in a special session and we plan to make a public comment in support of the Center at that meeting.”
There is a special session that will be held Aug. 1 to discuss the proposal, and the vote will take place in early September.
Shriver is also sending out Undergraduate Senate newsletters that update the Student Government and other organizations on the agenda of the senate. She said she hopes to have it reach more students once fall semester starts, to spread more awareness about Undergraduate Senate, and to fix the stigma surrounding the branch and its perceived ineffectiveness.
“And I want them to see this by this newsletter that we're more than just the legislative branch and we're more than just oh we can pass a bill here and there, we can actually impact students lives,” Shriver said. “So that's really the core of the newsletter, is to actually show people what we're doing over the year. “
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