After an hour and a half of heated debate over legislation, university president Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver took the podium at Student Senate March 25.
“I think I know where the foundation stone is,” Oliver told senators, in response to questions about the location of the stone in the previous Senate. The stone used to be sitting in the Lexington Inn but had disappeared. “I had it moved since we were going to renovate [the Lexington Inn] to a Chick-Fil-A. It’s safe in storage with facilities management.”
Student senators asked Oliver questions ranging from library details to weekend plans to food contracts. He announced that a donor has offered to pay for “real” chimes and bells for the Miller Tower.
“That project, if approved, would be done next year,” Oliver said. “I’ll give an update when the donor says yes.”
Oliver also updated students on the status of the food services committee, which is currently reviewing bids from six food service providers including Aramark, Union’s current food service provider. Oliver said he “sensed that the Lexington Inn will be replaced with a national retail brand, such as Chick-Fil-A or Subway.”
One senator asked Oliver what the next construction project would be after the library is completed. Oliver explained that, in the next 10-20 years, he would like to see the Great Lawn extend all the way to the US-45 bypass, which would mean the Pennick Academic Complex would eventually be torn down.
“The next thing would be something on the south side of the Great Lawn, adjacent to White Hall,” Oliver said. “A chapel is another example of something that would be a beautiful symbol at the center of the Great Lawn, if we think about that area as an access point.”
Oliver also challenged the senators to “extend Christian hospitality to both members of the Union community and to visitors.” He thanked senators for making he and his family feel so welcome and settled during his first year as president.
The Student Government Association traditionally invites the university president to speak in Senate once per semester. This was Oliver’s third time in Senate, but his second as president.
Five pieces of legislation – four bills and one resolution — were proposed to senators before Oliver spoke.
“I was very pleased that we had 5 pieces of legislation and really thoughtful debate on each of them,” said Emma Kurt, sophomore biology major and SGA vice president. “It shows that senators are interested in what they are passing and are committed to pass or fail a bill depending on its content and intent instead of just apathetically passing or failing every bill that is presented. I am proud of our senators.”
Grace Pepper, junior English major, presented a bill to provide two hundred dollars to The Torch, Union’s literary art magazine. The bill passed.
Morgan Kroeger, senior accounting and Spanish major, presented a resolution suggesting to the administration that the Grant Center be “evaluated for less restrictions on student parking, due to the fact that said parking lot is not needed 100% of the time for an event.” The resolution passed.
Joey Bakeer, sophomore cell and molecular biology major, presented a bill entitled “Let the People Know Act of 2015,” requesting that SGA send out an e-mail reminder to the student body one day prior to each Senate meeting, containing a list of student associations, the senators for those associations, and pieces of legislation for the upcoming meeting. The bill passed with one amendment.
Two constitutional amendments were also presented to Senate, but neither passed. Caleb Hall, sophomore teaching English as a second language major, presented the first, which would remove the legislation requirement for class councils to present two pieces of legislation per semester and prohibit incentives for presentation of legislation. The bill failed.
The second constitutional amendment was presented by Eddie Echeverria, sophomore political science major. The bill proposed amending the SGA constitution to add “at the discretion of the vice president” after the attendance policy, which would update the constitution to reflect the current attendance procedure. The bill failed by a narrow margin.
Lacie Fink, junior accounting major and SGA ambassador, gave an update on the status of previously passed legislation. All of the resolutions were approved by administration, with a few changes happening in the next week. A honey mustard dispenser has been ordered for Brewer Dining Hall and will be installed during spring break. The Wellness Center hours have been extended to 2-5 p.m. on Sundays, beginning after spring break.
The Senate budget stands at $995 with two Senate meetings remaining this semester.
“I think Dub Senate was a great success with a lot of debate over important issues,” Kurt said. “It was a good representation of what Senate is all about, and I am glad that Dr. Dub got to see that!