In the first full meeting of their 100th session, the Undergraduate Senate discussed bills ranging from the creation of a new position for diversity and inclusion to the creation of a mental health awareness week. Here are the top three takeaways:
Mental health awareness week
The Senate approved a resolution to create an annual mental health awareness week at UNC. Senator Reeves Moseley said he created the resolution to get the bill in front of Student Body President Savannah Putnam, who supported increased mental health resources in her platform.
“That’s why I’m proposing this as a resolution to be brought forward to Savannah specifically,” he said. “That’s why I think we should include a joint conference between the two branches — I mean I don’t know if that’s going to include different student organizations, if this is going to be a week specifically or just an event or how we’re going to do that specifically, but again I think this is a foundation we should initiate on.”
According to the resolution, events could include Therapy Dog Thursdays, an exhibition of backpacks or notebooks to show how many college students are affected by mental health issues or a discussion of how Greek life and mental health are interconnected.
Mission statement amendment
A six-person select committee was created to revise the Undergraduate Senate’s mission statement. Senator Wil Wiener introduced the resolution because he said he did not like the wording of the previous mission statement.
“I thought it (the old mission statement) made Senate sound kind of corny and didn’t represent a whole lot of what we did,” Wiener said.
Senator Wiener wanted the mission statement to be revised in front of the full Senate but in the end, chairperson of the Rules and Judiciary committee, Tanner Henson, proposed that a select committee be created to decide on better wording for the mission statement.
Position of Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator
In what turned out to be a contentious debate, chairperson Henson re-introduced a bill to create the new position of Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator primarily in charge of outreach for the Senate.
Speaker Kennith Echeverria pushed back on the bill during debate because he said the position takes outreach responsibility away from other positions such as speaker pro tempore.
“Essentially what the speaker pro tempore’s duties are are to go out there and reach out to communities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,” he said. “Furthermore this position in particular prescribes that the outreach chair create a public forum, that’s already the duty of the speaker pro tempore.”
Henson said the bill was created after no public hearings were held during the 99th session.
“How can we all be assured that an individual that’s holding the speaker pro tempore’s role has these connections and relationships in the communities that we want to reach and broach?” Henson said.
Echeverria also said outreach should be the job of the Senate, and currently the Senate is not doing enough outreach on its own.
“When I send emails out to you all and I’m like post this on your Facebook, you know, outreach this, no one participates in that, no one in the Senate does that actively," Echeverria said. “So when you all want me to appoint someone else who’s not even involved in the Senate to participate in outreach, it’s really audacious.”
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