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Senate holds second meeting of semester

Members discuss LSAT tutoring program and SWJ stipends

News Editor

Published: Sunday, February 9, 2014

Updated: Sunday, February 9, 2014 19:02

On Saturday, in its second meeting of the semester, the Student Association Senate discussed the future of an LSAT (Law School Admission Test) tutoring program, the Student-Wide Judiciary (SWJ) and the derecognition of the Arab American Association of Engineers and Architects (AAAEA).

Dan Ovadia, a senior business major, proposed the creation of a low-fee, 15-person LSAT tutoring program in conjunction with Mock Trial. Saturday marked Ovadia’s third time coming to the Senate on the issue.

Ovadia asked for $680.70 from the New and Innovative line. SISH (Special Interests, Services and Hobbies) Coordinator Michael Calliste has already supported Ovadia’s program with $150.

Ovadia planned to ask $15 from each participant – $10 of the fee will cover the cost of two textbooks and the remaining $5 will go to Mock Trial for their fundraising. The program is over the course of eight weeks.

Ovadia said he is offering his services during that time for free because he feels a great desire to give back to UB. His presentation outlined ways to make the program more sustainable in the future by partnering with Mock Trial.

The Senate decided to give $250 to Mock Trial from the New and Innovative line. Because the Senate cannot tell Mock Trial how to spend its money, it advised Ovadia to have students pay a $25 fee and have Mock Trial contribute $200 from its budget.

SWJ Chief Justice Twiesha Vachhrajaniasked for a $1,200 stipend for her work. The Senate revoked the stipend when past chief justices were not adhering to their duties for the role.

After discussion, the Senate decided there were not enough precautions on handling SWJ if members do not follow through on their jobs. The issue of her stipend was tabled for the next Senate meeting.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Senate voted to derecognize the AAAEA after it showed no signs of activity over the past year.

The Senate changed the date of future meetings, which will now take place every other Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in 250 Student Union starting Feb. 23.

 

email: news@ubspectrum.com

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3 comments

A. Stebbins, SWJ CJ '12-'13
Mon Feb 10 2014 13:51
Anonymous, my issue is not with student groups receiving money. I would like to see a less self-perpetuating system in place though. (That hits at a deeper issue which stems from our student body being made up largely of commuters.)

Let me address each issue you raise in your comment, point by point:

(i) Justices are nominated by the Student Association President, go through an interview process with the SWJ Chief Justice, and get confirmed by the SA Assembly through a vote.
(i) There is a process for impeachment, just as there is in the US government (the process is similar too). So it is not the 'old boys club' like you imply.
(iii) That the SWJ serves mostly to dole out community service hours is a common misconception; rather, the court (including hearing representatives) serve as the student body's voice in reviewing complaints issued by university administration and/or the university police.
Our role is that of student advocates. And we wouldn't be advocating for all students if some complaints didn't result in a student getting some sort of slap on the wrist. In many cases, the actions are serious enough to merit a more severe punishment -- often times handed down by a town or city court. In our role, we're also able to see that students get one on one counseling that will (hopefully) make a difference in their lives. Justices don't work for the university or the UBPD.

(iv) The inefficiencies you reference are only SWJ playing the game the way the rules have been written. I agree that the entire process could be made easier and more fair (the entire system is Byzantine and clouded by many needless regulations). Bear in mind that there are only, on average, between 10 and 15 volunteer justices and our responsibilities are wider than monitoring elections.

Anonymous
Mon Feb 10 2014 12:19
One group gives student groups money and is elected by the students.

The other is unelected, unimpeachable, and gives students community service hours.

This is all not counting the terrible inefficiencies that seem to plague the SWJ during election time, where students are forced to wait up to two days in a three day election for a hearing or a verdict on a time sensitive complaint.

A. Stebbins, SWJ CJ '12-'13
Sun Feb 9 2014 22:07
"The Senate revoked the stipend when past chief justices were not adhering to their duties for the role.
After discussion, the Senate decided there were not enough precautions on handling SWJ if members do not follow through on their jobs."

Amanda, I suspect this was a quote given to you by a member of the Senate or other Student Association leadership (perhaps a note you wrote while in their meeting?); however, I could be wrong. Regardless of origin, it would be nice to hear more, considering it's not an issue raised to any members of the SWJ (at least during my three years on the court) by the Senate or anyone else. If the (elected) Senate has chosen to use the Spectrum as a means of communication (over, say, a walk across campus or a phone call) then so be it.

The fact remains, the work of the (volunteer!) student justices positively impacts the lives of more students than the Senate, which (unfortunately), largely serves an insular, monolithic, group -- and due to the recursive nature of SA and its leadership, this is unlikely to change. The work of SWJ is done in confidence and outside of the Union (in Capen Hall) and so is largely unnoticed - which is fine, of course. That Senators and other student body leadership are unaware (necessarily and by law) of what justices do on a weekly basis is not an appropriate basis for claiming that they are not adhering to their roles.





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