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Friday, June 21, 2024
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Low SA Senate attendance jeopardizes clubs’ funding, slows SA operations

Of seven Senate meetings this year, three have failed to meet quorum

At 5:05 p.m. on Feb. 14, seven Student Association (SA) senators conversed quietly in a third-floor boardroom in the Student Union, watching the door in the hopes more senators would arrive. Five clubs’ leaders talked among themselves, their events’ budgets on the line.

More than 20 minutes later, with only seven senators present, Senate Chair Gavin Krauciunas called the meeting off. The clubs’ supplemental funding requests were delayed by a week until the next meeting.

Of seven scheduled Senate meetings so far in the 2023-24 academic year, three were canceled — one on Nov. 18, one on Dec. 12 and one on Feb. 14 — because too few senators showed up.

Zanaya Hussain, an urban and public policy major, is the secretary of UB’s Amnesty International chapter. She was set to ask the Senate for funding during the Feb. 14 meeting, after she says a clerical error made by SA caused her club to lose its official recognition and its budget — over $800.

The meeting’s cancellation left her disappointed.

“I recognize that students have busy schedules. I also recognize that SA is severely understaffed,”  Hussain said. “But not being willing to take just one hour out of your day for a meeting that is outlined as a responsibility for the position you campaigned for seems inconsiderate of other students who were counting on you to be there.”

Hussain was among the club leaders who spoke out last year against an SA policy that would have forbidden clubs on campus, including Amnesty International, from affiliating with groups outside UB. The SA Executive Committee retracted the policy last summer after UB’s chapter of the right-wing Young Americans for Freedom sued.

Under New York State law, public meetings require a quorum — in the SA Senate’s case, a simple majority of members — to be present for a meeting to take place. In the SA Senate, where 22 of 23 seats are filled, 11 members must be present to hold a meeting.

When an SA Senate meeting fails to meet a quorum, the Senate’s business is delayed until the next meeting.

SA President Becky Paul-Odionhin acknowledged that low Senate attendance is causing issues for clubs. She said SA doesn’t save attendance records from canceled meetings, but declined to comment further.

SA Senate Chair Gavin Krauciunas declined to comment.


The news desk can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com 

Sol Hauser is the senior news editor and can be reached at sol.hauser@ubspectrum.com

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