Senate Beat: Special Snarky Edition
Senate kicked off its last meeting of the semester with a speech from Student Body President Nora McConnell-Johnson ‘12 defending the accomplishments of this semester’s Senate and lambasting yours truly. Calling this semester’s Senate “dramatically different” from previous senates, she noted that there had been no major drama and no alcohol at meetings. She listed the accomplishments of this semester’s Senate, including the many appointments made to different committees, the money allocated to student groups, the creation of the Sexual Misconduct Board, and the proposal to use the Theatre building for student space. Finally, she triumphantly noted that Senate managed to accomplish all this “despite being subjected to weekly snarkiness and negativity from the Senate Beat!” How impressive! Few public figures are subject to sarcasm in the press. I’m surprised they got anything done at all.
As I mentioned in these pages last week, I don’t think it’s my job to sing Senate’s praises, although I would note that I have covered the accomplishments that Nora listed and have given Senate credit where I thought credit was due. Senate Beat, during my time at Reed, has usually been the work of a Senate insider written with plenty of jokes aimed at other insiders. However, I have made an attempt to write Senate Beat for the student body rather than for Senate, by trying to take the role of a skeptical (and occasionally sarcastic) outsider. I think that the role of proper journalism is to question authority. When journalists and those in power get too cozy, journalism can sink into gossip and propaganda while those in power can avoid scrutiny.
But back to the Senate meeting. Besides celebrating its own accomplishments, Senate passed a large raise for student Judicial Board members. Co-chairs of J-Board will now make $500 per month instead of $175, and other members will make either $250 or $300 (depending on seniority) instead of $150. It’s great that J-Board will now be making substantially more money for the large amount of hard work they do. However, Senate can’t take full credit for this—the idea came from the J-Board advisors, and the college president’s office is supplying the extra wages, which used to come entirely from the student body.
Also in the realm of money, Senate agreed to make The Quest’s printing budget a line item rather than forcing us to go through Funding Circus every semester, which we are obviously glad about. Senate also voted to add another line item: $20 of student body money for food for each Senate meeting. This is intended to draw more students to Senate meetings.
In addition, Nora announced that Senate had already approved the changes to Honor Council Code that Brian had brought to last week’s Senate meeting. However, according to Brian, Community Affairs Committee wants to further consider the changes before acting on them, so faculty approval will have to wait until February. Also, according to Nora, the Presidential Search Committee will soon begin discussing job applications that they have received, and President Colin Diver overruled the idea of Commencement Committee to invite a non-Reedie to give the commencement address.
To fill the position of Assistant Treasurer, Senate approved Paul Messick ‘15 (who recently ran unsuccessfully for Senate) to the delight of many senators. Finance Committee approved 6 new budgets. Meanwhile, Treasurer Phoebe Koenig ‘14 reported that Sustainability Committee still has no chair and spent much of its recent meeting discussing how to promote sustainability events at PSU. Senator AnnaLise Bender-Brown ‘13, who is a Winter Formal Czar, announced that Winter Formal has been postponed until after Paideia due to complications in the appointments process, but it may feature a beer garden.
Finally, Senate ended its last meeting as each member took turns reflecting on her or his favorite Senate moment of the semester. Several, such as Senators Junior Rodriguez ‘12, Sarah Carlisle ‘13, and AnnaLise, were proud of the creation of the Sexual Misconduct Board, while Senators Torra Spillane ‘12 and Aidan Sigman ‘13 were proud of the discussion about increasing involvement in student body government. Personally, I’m proud of having covered all but one of this semester’s Senate meetings this semester, and I hope that the student body got something out of my articles.