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Senate’s last meeting of semester ends with heated debate

December 13, 2007

Strong positions concerning several motions on the table led to extensive debate Tuesday night, making Student Senate’s last meeting of the semester a lengthy one. The debate began during the discussion of a motion that, if passed, would appoint Thomas Friant, Matthew Dale and Jenifer Biss as at-large senators, to fill three positions left vacant by those graduating or not able to continue into the next semester.

College of Business and Economics Representative Josh Breyer first expressed concern over the presence of alcohol at an executive board meeting during which the appointments were discussed, citing it as a reason to strike the motion from the agenda.

During the discussion that ensued, amendments were passed in response to Breyer’s concern and later, it was pointed out that candidate Biss hadn’t submitted a résumé. The issue then turned to whether or not that should affect her candidacy.

Breyer later rescinded his motion to strike the appointment motion from the agenda. After more discussion the amended motion appointing Friant and Biss was passed, although not unanimously.

The next motion on the agenda, if passed, moved to appoint Athletic Advisory Committee Chair Krista Hasselquist as Facilities and Fees Board chair, as well as to appoint newly elected at-large senator Jenifer Biss as Student Affairs and Academic Services director.

A motion was moved and passed to divide it into two motions, on which Senate would vote separately. A unanimous voice vote passed appointing Hasselquist to replace Trisha Fredricksen as Facilities and Fees Board chair beginning Dec. 21, while the debate as to whether or not Biss’ failure to present a résumé should be taken into consideration once more. It was also addressed that Biss is now studying abroad, which several senators pointed out may affect her ability to take over such a demanding position so suddenly.

During the discussion, President Derek Brandt defended the appointment, explaining the reasoning behind it.

“She’s been in Senate in the past and did an excellent job,” Brandt said. “We’ve been in contact … she knows what’s going on and can handle it.”

Some still remained unconvinced, which led the motion to fail in a hand vote.

Later in the meeting, a new motion was proposed. After discussion and a ten-minute recess for the executive committee, the motion was passed, appointing Biss as Student Affairs and Academic Services director, pending review by the executive board second semester, with résumés from all three candidates present. 

Another motion, although introductory only, sparked heavy debate among senators. It was proposed that bylaws be suspended to allow the motion, which moved to allocate money to fund a voter registration drive next semester, to be voted on immediately, despite the fact that it hadn’t been on the agenda for two weeks and did not receive approval from the Finance Committee.

Some supported the motion, citing time constraints as extenuating circumstances. Others expressed concern over the idea of suspending the bylaws for any reason.

The motion to temporarily suspend the bylaws was called to a vote twice during the meeting but ultimately failed, both times failing to secure the 2/3 majority required.

In less controversial Senate news, motions were unanimously passed to fund an executive retreat, allocate money to attend the UW System Reps meetings and to urge the recreation committee to consider once again allowing kneepads during intramural broomball games.

Despite the turbulence of their final meeting, Brandt said that overall, the entire semester was a successful one.

“I think it went really well,” Brandt said. “We rolled a lot of positions, but I feel very comfortable with all those who filled them … we look forward to the bonding of old and new [members].”

Senate’s first meeting of the new semester will take place 7 p.m. Jan. 29 in the Willow River Room of the University Center.