Student Senate examines employee benefits, budget concerns

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By Michael Wunder, News Editor

During its bi-weekly meeting on Thursday, Feb. 17 in the Dodge Room of the Milo Bail Student Center, the UNO Student Senate debated a handful of resolutions and budget concerns.

The meeting started late, with senators arriving in the meeting room five to 10 minutes after 7 p.m.

Prior to opening the floor to new business, “brownie points” were awarded in the form of actual brownies to three members of student government for doing January’s calendar. 

One order of new business was SR-10/11-28 brought to the floor by Arts and Sciences Senator Ryan Tefft.  The resolution would give benefits to faculty and staff’s significant others who have a certain dependence on UNO employees.

The resolution was initially drafted by UNL’s student government and inspired heated discussion among the UNO student senate.

“The nature of the language suggests it’s for homosexual couples,”  Tefft said, after other senators inquired about the resolution’s intent.

“I find the language patently offensive,” said Sen. Terrence Batiste, addressing the resolution’s ambiguity.

Batiste supported the resolution and benefits for homosexual couples, but thinks the resolution’s language could be more aggressive.

The resolution, however, will eventually be brought before the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, where older and more conservative board members may be put off by overt language, Tefft said.  “There’s a need to keep the language down for it to even be on the radar.”

The senate voted to keep the language as is in order to give the resolution a better chance before the Board of Regents.

The heated climate of the meeting continued into a vote on amending changes to the UNO budget.

A primary target of the budget discussion was the Gateway’s $16,000 increase, which raises the newspaper’s fees to slightly more than $3 per student.

Several senators questioned the increase, wondering why a student newspaper needed such an increased amount of money.  Sen. John Wrobel noted the Gateway’s loss of advertising dollars and attributed that loss to the newspaper’s need for more funding.

Despite criticism, senators were opposed to actually supporting any future legislation detrimental to the Gateway.

The political ramifications of a decision to defund the newspaper, in publication since 1913, would be high, Batiste said. 

The decision to increase the newspaper’s budget was made by the Student Activities Budget Commission on Feb. 14.

All amendments to the budget were approved.

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