Student Assembly members in Willard Straight Hall Sept. 8.

Michael Li / Sun Staff Photographer

Student Assembly members in Willard Straight Hall Sept. 8.

September 30, 2016

S.A. Eliminates Residential Life Committee, Tables Resolution to Reform Membership

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The Student Assembly passed a resolution eliminating the Residential Life Committee from its bylaws and tabled a resolution to reform the assembly’s membership process at its meeting Thursday.

The S.A. Residential Life Committee addresses concerns in residence halls and cooperative learning residences, including making and reviewing policies that directly affect student life, according to the University.

Mitch McBride ’17, the S.A. vice president for internal operations — who sponsored the resolution — said the assembly decided not to continue to support such a committee because it was “institutionally inefficient given the nature of the Residential Student Congress’s responsibilities.” The resolution passed with a “unanimous or at least near unanimous” vote,” according to McBride.

McBride explained that other S.A. committees “can deal with residential life issues if they arise under [their] purview.”

The resolution’s abstract said that the Residential Life Committee’s authority would be transferred to the Health and Wellness Committee. McBride said that it was his and the general assembly’s opinion that issues related to residential life that were not completely handled by the Residential Student Congress could be adequately handled by other committees.

“The City and Local Affairs committee might deal with off campus housing and the health and wellness committee might deal with health issues in places where students live, for example,” McBride said. “There will no longer be a specific committee related to residential life issues because RSC handles the large majority of those issues.”

The S.A. also discussed a resolution that proposed changing the assembly’s structural composition and improving its representation of specific student groups. The resolution would have charged a new committee with investigating the S.A.’s current membership and operational structure and issuing a formal set of recommendations to the assembly on “how to improve representation.”

S.A. President Jordan Berger ’17 said the resolution was tabled by a single vote, so it could be discussed the following week.

“By only one vote, the S.A. decided to table the resolution for a week on restructuring,” Berger said. “It appeared that there were many reps that had concerns with the composition of the group and they wanted to spend more time thinking about the structure of the group.”

Gabe Kaufman ’18, undergraduate representative to the University Assembly, said the resolution’s intention was to create a committee “to investigate possibly restructuring the membership composition of the Student Assembly and to issue a formal report on its suggestions and recommendations.”

The resolution proposed a change in the assembly’s “internal procedures and membership structure to better represent an increasingly diverse student body,” he said.

Kaufman added that, based on his interpretation of the discussion, most S.A. members supported the creation of such a committee to “lead the charge on investigating restructuring.”

He said he recognizes that some members are skeptical of the proposed compositional structure and that he and co-sponsor Akhilesh Issur ’17, S.A. international student liaison at large, are willing to work with these members to develop a structure that meets every member’s needs.

However, some S.A. members expressed concerns about the resolution, McBride said.

“It is my understanding that the resolution was tabled so that the sponsors could further work on the resolution and present it again next week,” he said.

Some S.A. representatives are concerned that a committee designated to investigating restructuring would act as a “gatekeeper,” but supporters of the resolution believe the committee would actually benefit the student body, according to Kaufman.

“The sponsors and supporters of [the resolution] believe that such a committee would actually serve as an amplifier by allowing both more and more accessible points of contact for the student body to have their ideas heard and rigorously considered in an open format,” Kaufman said.

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