Student senators pass legislation as term comes to end

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Student Governing Association’s 2020-2021 governing term ended Thursday, April 1, with many people reflecting on their unprecedented year.

The members took senate seats in an “odd season,” Kelly Farris, student senate faculty advisor and executive director of the Center for Student involvement, said at the SGA banquet.

“You’ve never had a chance to sit in a room together with your leadership,” Farris said. “And yet, I don’t know that anyone ever missed a beat. … I know late-night senates aren’t always fun, but how much more fun were they this year, when you could wear your pj’s and lounge on your couch.”

Thomas Lane, vice president for student life and dean of students, said he feels next year’s group will get more in-person experiences.

“And with the lessons that we’ve learned and the experiences that we’ve gained over these past 12 months, I know we’re going to be an even stronger K-State,” Lane said.

On Zoom or in person, student senators don’t get involved for the recognition, Nathan Bothwell, speaker of student senate and senior in political science and communication studies, said.

“‘We don’t do public service because it’s sexy. We do it to get the chance to work hard at work worth doing, alongside a team of people that we love,’” Bothwell said, quoting Leslie Knope from “Parks and Recreation.”

Several speakers touched on how the student senate this year focused quite a bit of time taking steps to improve inclusivity at K-State, most notably with the resolution encouraging the administration to speed up their 11-step action plan and improve transparency. Most recently, student senate also decreased the minimum requirements to be a student senator from enrollment in 12 credit hours to enrollment in only one credit hour.

Among the many awards presented during the banquet, Bothwell introduced a new award — the Bernard Franklin Outstanding Advocate Award — which he presented to Vedant Kulkarni, senior in management information systems and mass communications and SGA international student affairs director.

Franklin served as the first Black student body president at K-State, winning in the ‘70s by a write-in campaign.

“We decided to name an award after him,” Bothwell said, “specifically for students who not only advocate for others on our campus, but particularly go out of their way to advocate for underrepresented student groups who might not always have a seat at the table.”

After several tearful goodbyes during the SGA banquet, student senate members got to work, passing almost a dozen pieces of legislation before concluding the term.

Student senate passed a bill instating a large decrease to the Wildcat Watch equipment reserves and operations fees. Wildcat Watch is a student organization allowing students to get hands-on experience with video production services.

Madison Brown, privilege fee committee chair and senior in finance, said this change was prompted because the group has had a surplus in funds for the past few years.

Student senate also passed legislation no longer allowing questions asked after debate. Max Harman, the bill’s author and senior in biochemistry, said many times the questions asked of people during debate are rather pointed, and could just be their own pieces of debate. Now when members have concerns, they can raise points of information instead, which will be less debate-like and can still allow meetings to carry on in a timely manner.

In addition to several amendments clarifying bylaws, the student senate passed an amendment allowing student employees to serve on the advisory committees of an entity that they’re employed by, as well as amendments allowing the Peer Academic Coaching Program and WildcatLink to receive priority funding.

Student senate will reconvene at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 8. Members of SGA can meet in Room 1088 of the Business Building, while others can join via Zoom.

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