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'The previous year kind of sucked’: Ni debuts at first senate

Katherine Hui / Thresher

By Maria Morkas     3/21/23 10:34pm

The first Student Association senate was held for the 2024 fiscal year after leadership changeover occurred prior to spring break. SA President Solomon Ni led the meeting, highlighting some changes he wanted to see in the organization moving forward.

“I’m going to be honest with you, the previous year kind of sucked,” Ni, a Jones College sophomore, said at Senate.

Ni listed his “expectations” for the SA this year, including transparency and inclusivity, creating a platform for the “most relevant” voices to be heard and having a “low tolerance” for offensive behavior.

SA Treasurer Yuv Sachdeva introduced the new budget for the 2024 fiscal year, including the elimination of the budget for international night, which has not been used for years, increasing the general projects fund and implementing a senate per diem. 

Ni proposed a resolution to compensate college presidents, senators and executive committee members for the time they are required to be at senate meetings. Ultimately, the resolution was tabled indefinitely due to near unanimous backlash.

“College senators, college presidents, the president, internal vice president, external vice president, treasurer, secretary and the parliamentarian are entitled to a per diem of $8 for each meeting of [the] senate,” Ni wrote in the resolution. “The amount is capped at $200 for a legislative session for each officer receiving a per diem.”

McMurtry Senator Lauren Verthein said that they were elected with the expectation from their peers that they would work for free. 

“Because of that expectation from many of our colleges, I would be worried that with the inclusion of this, it would cause the student body to lose faith in us, because we are volunteers from our colleges who are volunteering our time to come here and represent,” Verthein said.

Brown College President Jae Kim said there needs to be a greater discussion in the university about making leadership positions more accessible via compensation. However, he said he thinks this seems like a misguided step to solve that issue.

Several other senate members echoed these sentiments and proposed using that money to increase engagement with the student body in different ways.

Duncan College President Evan Jasica said that an issue is that a lot of students don’t know much about the SA, don’t care about it or don’t know why they should care.

“I think this money would be better served as an outreach for informing people about what specifically the SA [does],” Jasica, a junior, said. “What it actually has control over, different blanket tax organizations — the money that Rice students give, where does that go? And how is that decided?” 

Discussions about the purpose and efficacy of the SA, marketing ideas and lack of committee involvement followed. The amended budget passed with $3000 moved from per diem to general projects; $2600 will be equally spent among the fall and spring kick off events.

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