Five quitting senators leave SA in lurch

Heather Mangan

Heather Mangan

The Students’ Association will be out five senators at the end of this semester – something it’s never had to deal with before – and its constitution is unclear about what to do about it this late in the year.

James Beatty, a senator for the College of Engineering and John Kappes, a senator for the College of Pharmacy, resigned this semester saying they were too busy.

At the end of the semester, Monique Vidal, a senator for the College of Nursing, is transferring and Emily Swann, a senator for the College of Arts and Science, and Vannapha Thammavong, a senator for the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, are planning to study abroad.

SA held a special closed session Nov. 15 to dicuss the matter and will take action at the Nov. 22 meeting, said SA President Amanda Mattingly.

The constitution says if a seat is vacated during the semester that the senator is elected, the SA fills that position by selecting another candidate through an interviewing process.

But if a senator’s seat is not filled at the end of the semester after the election, the constitution says the seat will remain empty.

The SA has never had this many people resign before, Mattingly said.

“We are in conflicting views in what the bylaws say,” Mattingly said. “Our bylaws are kind of vague in what we can do.”

But Mattingly said the senate has four main options. It could leave the spots open, hold more at-large interviews, hold a special election, or appoint new senators.

“I don’t know where we will find people to appoint,” said SA advisor Zeno Wicks, also a plant science professor.

He said the SA sometimes has difficulty finding enough people to run, especially in the colleges that are the most academically strenuous, like engineering, nursing and pharmacy.

“Students in nursing are just concentrating on that – getting through school,” he said. “They don’t really have a lot of time to do other things like be on the senate.”

Wicks said if the senate gets new members it would have to spend time training them and getting them caught up on the work that has already been done.

The main job of the senate is to fund student activities, not necessarily to give money to a particular major or college, Wicks said.

“The (individual) college, per se, shouldn’t be impacted,” he said.

Vice President Doug Timm said many of the senators are involved in various activities around campus so it makes it difficult for them to be on the senate.

“The people that are on senate are pretty ambitious and it is hard to balance those things,” Mattingly said.

Another reason that senators might be quitting is because of the union construction, Mattingly said.

Not all problems are caused by the construction, but it has added extra stress, she said. She said the senators don’t know each other as well as they could if they worked in a centrally-located, spacious office. It isn’t the main reason senators have left, but it may be a factor, she said.

Although the senate will be short five senators, there will still be a representative from each college, said Marysz Rames, SA advisor and dean of student affairs.

“We still have quorum and all the colleges are represented,” she said. “It’s just nice to have all your positions filled.”

However, Rames said there isn’t the same kind of feedback as there would be if all the positions were filled.