‘This is new territory’: Student senate continues meeting in virtual setting

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“You guys can unmute and clap, I guess,” speaker of the student senate and senior in finance and organizational management Hannah Heatherman said during Thursday night’s Student Governing Association legislative meeting upon the passage of a commendation.

Student senators and governing body leadership weren’t crowded into their usual meeting space in the K-State Student Union. That would have been impossible given the indefinite closure of the space and the limitations to gathering sizes guided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead, some 80 people signed on to a special student senate Zoom meeting.

“This is new territory,” Heatherman said.

The commendation, which passed unanimously, will likely be the last of the term. Heatherman said there will be a limit on legislation going forward and only bills and resolutions that are “essential” or pertinent to the function of SGA in the next term will be heard. Anything else will be put on the back burner for now.

The transition to the next term, which will now commence a week late on April 9 due to delays related to the extension of spring break and other unplanned variables, will also happen digitally. Usually new senators are given weekly trainings at the start of the term to catch them up to speed on parliamentary procedure and the rules of debate in legislative meetings.

The meeting didn’t quite go off without a hitch.

Student body president and senior in industrial engineering Jansen Penny was momentarily disconnected from the Zoom conference while trying to present a director’s report with Heatherman about what SGA will look like for the rest of the term.

For 10 minutes, student senate proceedings were stalled as troubles with voting and questions of quorum were discussed.

“As we get comfortable, this whole process will go easier to begin with,” Heatherman said.

During the meeting, there was brief discussion of the likelihood of student fee reimbursement. Penny says, from what he understands, he doesn’t anticipate students will be reimbursed for the Privilege Fee. Although many campus entities are closed, Penny said there are still programs funded by the Privilege Fee that are offering limited or revised operations. For instance, Counseling Services is experimenting with telehealth services.

Student senate also passed a number of allocation agreements, finalized a decrease in the Privilege Fee allocation to SGA for leadership compensation and accepted the results from the student body elections.

“Thank you so much for your patience,” Heatherman said as the meeting adjourned. “Hopefully, this just gets easier every week.”

Student senate will reconvene at 7 p.m. on March 26 via Zoom.

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Kaylie Mclaughlin
My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.