By Julie Mazziotta
After five hours of waiting, Bryn Mawr reached quorum at their Fall Plenary at 3:24 p.m., with enthusiastic cheering in Goodhart Theater. Students quickly moved through, and passed, all five resolutions in just an hour.
The theme of the day was social media, and it was everywhere. From tweeting the attendance numbers as students waited to reach the 436 necessary for quorum, to encouraging everyone (including SGA member Priya Saxena) to “like” the Self Government Association’s Facebook page.
Resolution #1: Establishing and Defining the Role of the Bi-Co Liasion
This resolution, presented by Honor Board President Priya Saxena ’12, creates an honor board position for the bi-co liaison, someone who will accompany a Bryn Mawr student if they have an honor board hearing at Haverford, or another institution. The bi-co liaison will then report back to the home institution on the honor board decision.
“People have had trials at other schools in the past and haven’t brought the decision back to their home institution,” Saxena said.
Last semester the honor board and the SGA assembly voted on this decision, but needed to present it to the student body at plenary to include the resolution in the constitution. Additionally, Haverford presented their own version of this resolution at their plenary, and it cannot pass at Bryn Mawr if Haverford does not pass the resolution.
The resolution easily passed at Bryn Mawr without any questions, or pro and con statements, by a visual vote.
Resolution #2: Composting Research and Development at Bryn Mawr
Presented by Daniele Arad-Neeman ’14 and Karen Leitner ‘14
Neeman and Leitner, members of the SGA Sustainablility Committee, presented this resolution, which asks for a vote of support in their efforts to create a composting system on campus.
Currently, Bryn Mawr incinerates all of their trash, releasing 9,108 lbs of carbon in to the air per year. Neeman and Leitner hope to work with the administration to improve the composting system, and possibly purchase composters in the future.
“We know that there’s little awareness of the composting issue, and we need to get to a place where we can have a viable composting program,” Neeman said.
Neeman and Leitner said that with the support of the student body, they will do research on how to implement a composting program, and may start working on writing grants to get money to pay for a composter, instead of asking the school to pay for it.
They also recognized that the Merion Township currently has legislations that make composting difficult, which the Sustainablility Committee has run in to in the past, but say that they are willing to take the time to work with the township and eliminate these obstacles. Additionally, Neeman and Leitner addressed concerns about whether composting would increase the workload of dining hall workers, and said that they would ensure that would not be the case. The vote quickly passed by visual vote.
Resolution #3: Reorganization of the Bryn Mawr Concert Series
Presented by Lauren Bochicchio ’12 and Kate Grant ‘12
The most controversial resolution of the day focused on the Bryn Mawr Concert Series, which formed last year with the combination of the Alternative Concert Series and Mawrter Entertainment. The resolution just intended to revise the constitution with changes that the SGA assembly agreed upon last year.
The changes required the BMCS elected officials to create a budget at the end of each semester with the estimated date, genre and cost of their events for the coming semester, and present it for approval by the Representative Council. Then at the beginning of the next semester, BMCS would have to present a more finalized schedule.
The resolution become controversial when Blair Smith ’12 asked to include her amendment in the resolution, which asks that prior to any BMCS event, the Representative Council must approve the proposed artist by vote. Smith added that the artists can be approved in bulk or by an individual process.
Bochicchio and Grant deemed the amendment unfriendly, saying that it is near impossible to present the artists ahead of time.
“The reason why we didn’t originally like this process was because we didn’t like how lengthy it was, and it was almost impossible to get the vote in at SGA meetings,” Grant said. “We would often lose the artist because it would take too long to approve them, and they would lose interest.”
Smith countered this argument, adding that she was able to bring artists to campus through her proposed system without major difficulty.
The amendment failed with a counted vote, and immediately after the student body moved to a vote on the resolution, which passed by visual vote.
Resolution #4: Changing the Board of Trustees to an Appointed Position
Presented by Julia Fahl ‘12
Board of Trustees Representative Julia Fahl ’12 presented the fourth resolution, which asked to eliminate the right for the Board of Trustees Representative to vote in the SGA Assembly.
Fahl stated that while the representative receives a vote in the SGA Assembly, they don’t actually represent a body of students, and receives little input from the community. Fahl asked to make the representative an appointed position, and believes that they should be chosen after an in-depth interview so the interested student has more of an idea of what the representative needs to do. The resolution passed with a visual vote.
Resolution #5: Creation of a Fund for Residential Council
Presented by Blair Smith ‘12
The final resolution, presented by Smith, one of the Residence Council heads, creates a fund for the Residential Council, which would be accessible to dorm presidents.
The fund would allow dorm presidents to withdraw up to $1,000 a semester to cover accident costs and other dorm improvements, with a total limit of $8,000. Dorm presidents would need to have the withdrawal approved at the next SGA meeting.
Smith explained that the idea came up two years ago after a Villanova student fell on, and broke a glass table during a party in one of the Pembroke dorms. The responisibility of covering the costs became the responsibility of the dorm presidents, and Smith, along with the rest of the Residence Council and Angie Sheets, the Director of Residencial Life, wanted to create the fund in the case of similar incidents.
Smith added that while dorm presidents receive discreationary funds to hold parties and other events, the money cannot be used for long term funding, and the Residential Council fund could also cover lasting improvements or repairs beyond what facilities could do.
Students spoke in favor of the amendment, adding that the fund would improve living conditions in the dorms and the resolution passed by a visual vote.