The University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government (USG) swore in new senator-elects and affirmed a veto of a bill concerning membership to the Election Oversight Committee (EOC) during last night’s senate meeting. The body also passed legislation to increase security in residence halls with security cameras and a resolution acknowledging the results of the midterm elections.
The body welcomed 23 new senators, filling open positions from residential constituencies, including Towers and Northwest, and from academic constituencies, including Fine Arts and Engineering.
Caitlin Cannon, a newly elected senator from the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, expressed a growing need for representation for such a large body of students as a reason for running. She also mentioned that outreach from current senators, such as Ethan Werstler, Senator of the Alumni residence halls, convinced her to run for office.
“The community consists of thousands of people, so it is harder to have your voice heard, but by becoming a senator, I now know that my voice and the voice of my fellow constituents will have an impact,” Cannon said. “It was important for me to run and have that impact because improving the community should be at the top of everyone’s to-do list, so once Ethan told me about it, I knew I had to take the opportunity.”
The Senate’s agenda included discussion of a joint resolution to place security cameras in the entrances of residence halls, which was passed with overwhelming support. The resolution failed to pass last year due to financial and privacy concerns. After a woman was filmed showering in Hamilton Halls by an unidentified man, the constituents of Towers expressed concerns for their security, and the resolution had come to fruition.
With support of the legislative body, as well as other UConn organizations, such as Revolution Against Rape (RAR), Senator Dylan DeMoura, one of the resolution’s authors, conveyed a feeling of accomplishment of the legislation finally being passed.
Another author, Senator Stephen Tiberio, of Hilltops Halls, and formerly the Senator of Towers, expressed a similar sentiment at his resolution from the previous year finally being passed.
“It feels gratifying that we finally got it passed,” Tiberio said after the meeting. “After all of our perseverance, any measure taken to protect the student body is worth taking.”
Senator Nisali Fernando, a third author of the resolution, discussed the importance of the legislation being passed in particular to women, to further prevent gendered harassment or violence.
“I think this resolution is important for the women on this campus, the students in general, and the safety of the the students should not be ignored,” Fernando said.
The body also decided to sustain a veto by President Ama Appiah on a bill to amend the USG bylaws. The amendment would have allowed members of the EOC to resign their positions and run in any other USG elections, which is currently not allowed, as the members of the EOC would oversee any current USG elections. The bill came in light of the lack of members in the EOC, and the recent resignation of the former EOC Chairman, Brendan Carroll, and sought to allow former members of the committee to run in USG elections after their time on the EOC.
Appiah stated conflict of interest being a main concern and the importance of maintaining a precedent for the checks and balances of the system. She vetoed the bill because she wanted to refine the amendment to prevent any candidates from taking advantage of the position, and suggested a longer time in between the resignation of an EOC member to be allowed to run for USG. Retention of its current members should be a goal for the organization going forward, as members of the EOC are usually seniors, Appiah said.
“I understand why there are concerns about running for EOC, but the loopholes in the present amendment are a big issue,” Appiah said. “The issue (of) not having enough people on the committee can be solved organizationally, and should not be the reason why we should pass the amendment.”
Further discussion followed on a resolution acknowledging the midterm elections, including voter turnouts, the new leadership and the relationship between the university and the state. The resolution passed, congratulating the newly elected governor, Ned Lamont, as well as UConnPIRG’s New Voter Project, which helped increase voter turnout by 90 percent in comparison to 2014’s midterm elections.
“We hope that the new leadership is willing to work with us moving forward and listen to our concerns,” Senator Anna Pratt of Buckley/Shippee said. “Our increase in representation shows our interest in our issues being discussed.”
Hollie Lao is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.