SA confirms new members, amends bylaws and approves supplemental funding

By Jacqueline Evans and Danny Cozzi

DeKALB | The Student Association Senate confirmed new members to the various branches of the SA as well as amended bylaws during its Sunday night meeting.

The Senate voted to confirm Brandon Hunter as the 2011-12 SA Chief of Staff. Austin Quick, speaker of the Senate, vouched for the confirmation of Hunter in order to assist with the hiring process for the directors.

“By appointing Hunter, he can sit in on the interviews and be apart of the process,” Quick said.

Senators questioned Hunter’s ability to make sure director’s staff reports were turned in on time and the reprimand system he would adopt for next year.

“There are strict guidelines within the bylaws, and I will make sure that directors adhere by them,” Hunter said. “I anticipate a similar write-up system for the directors, and I plan to keep close track of their work and progress.”

Hunter also commented on his new theme for next year.

“I want to instate a theme of accountability for the entire office,” Hunter said. “We will be accountable.”

The Senate also voted to elect a new Senate speaker. After various senators declined a nomination, Sen. Mike Theodore nominated Quick, the current speaker, and he was unanimously approved.

“Austin has done a great job, and I believe he’s the best person for the position,” Theodore said.

Current SA President Erik Calmeyer came before the Senate to be confirmed as the senate clerk for next year. Calmeyer said he wants to remain neutral yet still stay involved with the SA.

“I don’t want to be involved with the politics of the Senate and filling the position of senate clerk will allow me to do so,” Calmeyer said.

The Senate then voted unanimously to confirm Calmeyer without debate.

In addition to confirming new members to the branches of the SA, the Senate voted to amend various bylaws.

The Senate voted to strike Article III, Section 2.C 3C which allows for a position of a Mass Transit Board graduate assistant. Writers of the amendment said it was created as a check and balance for the Mass Transit Board but has proved unnecessary because those duties and responsibilities have been placed upon the SA accountant.

“The position hasn’t been filled for years,” said Sen. Brian Troutman. “It was created to track busing fees, but graduate students cannot sign off on funds nor access financial information. We have the SA accountant for that now.”

The Senate also voted to amend the job descriptions of the SA directors. The bill stated the descriptions are “overly vague” and “should include specific duties.”

“We replaced all the bullet points and replaced them with the executive handbook,” Troutman said. 

The Senate also filled vacancies in the Supreme Court by confirming Nick Battisti and Heather Hentbrook as justices in an anonymous vote.

NIU Men’s Lacrosse came before the Senate to ask for supplemental funding. The team received $1,500 after initially requesting $2,100 for a trip to Lacrosse, Wisc. The Senate only had $2,038 remaining. It was decided to ultimately grant the team $1,500, split between $600 in lodging and $900 for registration fees and transportation.

The Senate debated the amount of funding the team should receive because it would cover transportation costs, which has been denied to other organizations in the past.

“It’s a use it or lose it situation,” Troutman said. “It’s the end of the year, and there aren’t any other organizations asking for funding.”

Sen. Nik Champion said it was unfair to other organizations who applied earlier in the semester for transportation expenses.

“If we give [NIU Men’s Lacrosse] funding for transportation then we should give it to other organizations who still have events planned,” Champion said.

Quick said it was a time issue and since there are only two meetings left, there would not be enough time to go through such a long process.

State Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley, spoke to the senators and urged them to get to know their own state representatives in order to voice their opinion about issues that affect students.

“The concealed carry law and MAP grant funding are important issues to college students especially at NIU,” Pritchard said. “I hope you weigh in on what the priorities of the government should be.”

Chief of Staff Steven Vaughn reported that the SA would be starting a petition in opposition to the possible installation of the plus/minus grading system.