Senate finds progress amid struggles with administration

By Justin Smith
Assistant News Editor

As this semester comes to a close, the Senate of Fall 2015 may very well be most remembered for approving the much debated griffin statue.  This, however, was far from Senate’s only accomplishment and, in the long run, almost certainly not their most important.  Progress from Senate is often slowed by the nature of student government’s relationship to administration, yet Senate has managed to lay down groundwork and resolutions for moving into the future, and can also boast concrete achievements for this semester.

Executive Vice President Elias “Fenoose” Ayoub talked, quite enthusiastically, about Senate’s accomplishments this semester. Many of student government’s accomplishments can be found in the body’s weekly email updates, however, these brief summaries don’t always tell the whole story.

“Some of the smaller projects we may be pursuing in the committees aren’t necessarily publishable yet,” said Ayoub.  “It’s hard to point to ongoing progress.”

Ayoub began by first talking about some of Senate’s more major achievements.  The statue aside–which Ayoub said he doesn’t even consider one of the semester’s “top projects”–one thing the Senate has managed is renovating the general weight room in the Koessler Athletic Center, at a cost of $100,000.

“Renovating the KAC is huge,” said Ayoub, adding, “That should be all set to go for spring semester.”

Although less concrete, Senate also passed a Policy Brief from the Sustainability Committee. The brief is, according to Ayoub, a “comprehensive policy on what we expect out of the College.”

Meg Zickl, co-chair of the Sustainability Committee along with Clayton Shanahan, offered her comments on the Policy Brief as well as some of her committees other achievements.

“I am most proud of the Styrofoam resolution [to eliminate funding for it and generally cut down on its use] and the Sustainability Policy Brief that was passed this semester,” said Zickl.  “Additionally, I am so proud of the Local Urban Market that Sustainability put on the second week of October.”

Zickl also talked about how her committee will be putting up a sign at Subway to discourage students from taking a plastic bag if they don’t need it, and a sign at Tim Horton’s encouraging students to save ten cents by bringing a reusable tumbler.

Another of the Senate’s accomplishments was its CPR training program.

“The accomplishment I am most proud of,” said Dilpreet Kaur, Chair of Public Health Committee, “is providing free CPR and AED training to over 100 Canisius College students.”

Other changes students may notice around campus are that breakfast is now served until 10 o’clock rather than nine, and Iggy’s alcohol policy has been softened in order to allow two drinks per hour–both these changes are courtesy of Senate.

However, despite all this success, there were some projects USA has yet to accomplish.  In a Sept. 15th interview, Ayoub said that a landlord directory was a short term goal of the Senate, and would “get going” within two weeks.  As the semester closes, that task has yet to be accomplished.

“The project was a little more comprehensive than we originally thought,” said Ayoub.

However, some progress has nonetheless been made, as Student Services Committee has put together a “template” for a directory which Ayoub hopes will become a “one-stop shop” on the USA website for students searching for a landlord.

In those areas where USA did struggle to find success, Ayoub pointed to administration.  For example, when it comes to getting laptops back on the silent floor of the library, Ayoub said that while USA “did a lot of really important advocacy work,” progress has been slow because “there’s been some disconnect between the different administration involved.” Ayoub said having things go unaccomplished is sometimes “the nature of the job.”

“A lot of the time our priorities as students aren’t the priorities of administration. We write a resolution and they change it the next day.”

Zickl also talked about some of the issues of dealing with administration from her committee’s perspective.

“Recycling on campus does not happen and we have little authority on that front because it deals with something administration has to mandate and educate their workers about.” Zickl added that her committee is, “Hoping [for] leadership from administration as stated in our Policy Brief.”

Still, Ayoub said USA will work “tirelessly” to complete the agenda they’ve set out for themselves.

“We have to pursue everything we advocate for until we are faced with a concrete and unmovable answer.”

With that in mind, USA is already beginning to think about goals for next semester.

“The capital thing from USA next semester,” said Ayoub, “is we’re looking to install a student run business on campus.”

Such a project remains a conceptual idea, but Ayoub suggested that a student run coffee shop, similar to a Spot Coffee, might be an option. Other projects include: mental health awareness, a campus can return system, better food, working to “foster better sense of spirit,” and a few commuter-centric projects, such as looking into a policy for those who miss class because of snow and restructuring meal plans to incentivize commuters. Ayoub also mentioned an alcohol amnesty program, which represents another project he had set as a short-term goal back in September. Finally, Ayoub mentioned a bike share program, on which Shanahan also commented.

“Sustainability Committee is also in the very beginning stages of trying to bring a bike share to campus,” said Shanahan. “We are very motivated to [make] sure that sustainability is a priority to [everyone] on campus.”

However, if Senate is to accomplish anything next semester, it will be with an updated cast.  Leaving Senate after this semester are: Amelia Greenan ‘18, Bobby Filipski ‘18, Dilpreet Kaur ‘17 and Jeff Spencer ‘17.  Meg Zickl and Christina Dibaudo will also say goodbye to the Senate as they graduate, and Speaker Rob Lepertine ‘17 will open his position up as he departs student government as well.  Coming in to replace these Senators are: Matthew Wrobel ‘18, Jenna Grainer ‘18, Tamara Miskovic ‘17, Imuse Ekpen-Itamah and Sean Wagner ‘16.

“Even though we’ve lost quite a few people,” said EVP Ayoub, “it’s not any one individual that makes USA successful, it’s the atmosphere that surrounds it and it’s the passion and the motivation and we still have a great group.”

Without a doubt, the hot-button issue of the semester was the Griffin statue, but the totality of the USA, good and bad, is much more than that. Senate must work with administration, and the nature of that relationship necessitates a certain slowness. This year’s Senate can certainly hang their hat on some of their accomplishments thus far, but there is still undoubtedly work left to be done and the full story on Senate won’t unfold itself entirely until the end of next semester.

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