Student Senate in restructuring | News

In a unanimous vote, the Student Senate marked a historic moment by adopting a set of new bylaws, addenda, and a revised Constitution. It has been about 30 years since such substantial updates have been made to Senate procedures.

“The biggest thing we saw internally was that every time we had a question, we had to turn to a 73-page document,” said Chris Grimpe, Senate Public Relations Coordinator. “It got very cumbersome to the point where we were stuck in the processes that were handed down to us and the processes we were going with didn’t always match what the bylaws said.”

Primarily, the revisions restructured the Senate and reduced the total number of its available members from 27 to 25, as well as changed the names of senator positions. Initially, three seats were allocated per class and 15 At-Large positions corresponding to Valpo colleges and niche campus groups (commuters and transfer students).

After the end of the Spring 2022 semester, the Senate will follow its new model: four seats by classification (determined by graduation date, not credit amount), six At-Large Senators, and 3 commuter seats . A graduate senator seat is also available, marking his first appearance in the organization.

“Legislation goes by all the time, however, few students know where to go. Not many students know their senators and may have three different senators they can go to and that’s another concern that has come up: how much of a student senate is there in the student body,” Grimpe said.

Committees within the Student Senate have also been updated. Each senator will continue to hold their job title and reside on at least one committee. Initially, there were nine entities that focused on specific issues: administration, catering services, discretionary funds, diversity and inclusion, finance, management, media, selection and residence.

“We had several retreats over the fall semester and earlier this semester where we got together as an executive committee and really talked about the challenges we face. From the first retreat to the second, we brought back the concerns we received from our constituents. Several senators have said their constituents want real change,” Grimpe said.

The executive committee remains the same, but the new constitution and bylaws have reduced the committees to four in total: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Operations, Student Experience and Outreach, and Elections.

“Within these committees there are different commissions. The commissions really do the heavy lifting and these committees just bring the commissions together for us and say, “What have you done and how can I help you,” Grimpe said.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will include four senators, one of whom will be the committee chair and sit on the executive committee. Primarily, the committee will work with organizations included in the Office of Multicultural Programs.

The Operations Committee will be an amalgamation of the original Finance, Administration and Discretionary Funds Committees. Comprised of a Chair, Vice Chair and five Associate Senators, the Operations Committee includes five committees: Programming, Student Media, Special Interests, Club Sports and Student Senate as well as the Honor Council. In addition, the group assumes responsibilities for finance and administration.

“The Operations Committee will regulate the process of recognition of student organizations, disputes between student organizations, budgetary concerns, and oversee the application of funding commissions,” Grimpe said in a press release.

Along with the changes, the Student Experience Committee communicates with three University entities: Residential Life, Food Services, and Campus Security and Parking. Campus security and parking are the latest additions to Student Senate collaborations.

“This is a new specified area of ​​Student Senate, previously we relied on students to contact their senators with their concerns. But, since we have a growing population of commuters, having two senators dedicated to security and parking on campus is essential,” Grimpe said.

A president will be the representative on the Executive Committee and six senators will communicate with specific commissions.

“The Residential Life Commission will be headed by two delegates from the Student Senate and will include members from each Residence and the Director of Residential Life. The Dining Services Commission will be headed by two delegates from the Student Senate and will include members of the general student population as well as representatives from Parkhurst Dining. The Campus Safety and Parking Committee will be headed by two Student Senate delegates and will include members of the general student population as well as the VUPD [Valparaiso University Police Department]the Parking Office and facility management,” Grimpe said in a press release.

Appointments of new Senators, Senate vacancies, community interactions, campus-wide programs, and retention of Senators are included in the Outreach and Elections Committee. Six senators and a chair will lead the committee and work closely with the press secretary (formerly public relations coordinator).

Finally, the Executive Committee includes the four Committee Chairs, three Advisors, the Student Body President, the Student Body Vice President, the Executive Secretary, the Press Secretary, and the Executive Treasurer.

Following internal structural changes, the Student Senate implemented an updated financial structure. Budget allocations and the tier system have undergone complete changes. A categorical commission system determines the funding each organization receives from the Student Senate. Instead of monetary amounts capped at specific levels, percentages have been assigned to each commission (housed under the Operations Committee).

“We will use budget and financial items from MyValpo in the future. Special Interest Commission student organizations will submit their annual budget on MyValpo. The Club Sports Commission, Media Commission and Programming Commission will be responsible for creating their annual budgets together at their meetings. Each organization will work together to allocate their committee’s budget. Once the committee agrees on its budget, it will send it to the Student Senate for approval,” Grimpe said in a statement. Press.

The president of each organization within this commission, their adviser, a delegate from the Senate and a delegate from the University will be present at these meetings. Programming, Media, and Club Sports Committees are responsible for creating their own budgets due to the presence of a professional advisor who receives compensation for overseeing these student organizations.

The Senate clarified that the budgets could be used for six different expenses under the new model. These include clothing orders up to 10% of the student organization budget, food purchases through Parkhurst, stipends, promotional materials through DesignWorks, conference attendances, and chapter membership dues or national.

“In our requirements for being a student organization, you cannot refuse membership for various reasons. In our conversations at these retreats, we wanted student organizations to be open to everyone, which makes sense because we give them the budgets and we want the money to go to all the students. During those conversations, we realized that honor societies don’t really align with that,” Grimpe said.

Valpo has seven honor societies covering a variety of academic disciplines. Previously, organizations used their allocated budget for conferences, retreats, dues and events.

“We in no way want to discourage any form of funding outside of these lectures or workshops that students can attend, but we do know that there are avenues on campus for these honor societies. For starters, each honor society is connected to a department on campus and they are more than capable of making money from there,” Grimpe said. “In terms of paper and living up to the values ​​and mission statement that Student Senate has put together, we don’t want honor societies to receive direct funding.”

Questions can be directed to [email protected] or any senator. Some of the changes come into effect immediately, while other updates will come gradually.

“Overall, if students hear about these changes and have questions, email any board member, email any senator,” said said Climb. “We want to be as transparent as possible when making these changes as we understand that some messages can be miscommunicated.”

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