In an unexpected move, Miami University’s Associated Student Government (ASG) elected a first-year to its leadership, confirming political science major Benjamin Mitsch as Speaker Pro Tempore at its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 12. Senators also rejected ASG’s Red Brick Rewards funding system at the meeting.
Mitsch ran against juniors Adrian Radilla and Edith Lui for the Speaker Pro Tempore seat.
In his campaign, Radilla stressed the need for oversight reform and referenced the “not-optimal work environment” that former Speaker Tatum Andres had to contend with last semester.
Lui emphasized her background as a capable and organized senator who has served on the administrative committee and had experience talking with administrators.
Mitsch described his experience with discipline as a member of Miami’s ROTC and as a police cadet. He proposed improvements to ASG’s attendance system. The current system uses points to track when senators are in attendance at weekly meetings, but does not penalize senators for sending alternates in their stead. Mitsch’s model would keep senators accountable by giving points for engagement during senate meetings and remove them from office for using alternates too many times during a semester. He also stressed his fresh perspective as a first-year, pointing out that he had little investment in any past scandals.
Secretary of Finance Caroline Weimer presented the requirements for each of the four tiers of the Red Brick Rewards ASG funding system for Senate to approve. She explained that though the funding committee does not believe the system is without its flaws, it has decided not to make changes before the fall semester so as to complete the system’s one-year trial period and avoid confusing student organizations.
Red Brick Rewards was implemented with the caveat that the system would be brought to the senate floor once a semester to be approved. Senate has voted to approve the system every semester since its implementation, making this vote a break from the norm.
Senator Max Mellott questioned the hierarchy of the tier requirements. Mellott argued that the eligibility to request funding from the Student Activities Diversity Initiative Grant, which sponsors programs that heighten awareness of diversity issues, and from the Lannigan New Initiative Grant, which supports organizations’ needs that can’t be met through traditional funding, should not be restricted to Tier 3.
Secretary of the Treasury Will Hoffman responded that many of the requirements are beyond ASG’s control and that concerned senators should talk to the Student Activities office. Hoffman added that he felt it was “unprofessional” to change the requirements at the last minute before continuing discussion with the Student Activities office and that a failure to approve the requirements would “cause chaos.”
Senator Atticus Block disagreed with Hoffman.
“This is my third semester in senate, and if this passes, this will be the third time a funding thing has come to the floor last minute, and [the funding committee] has told us there will be chaos if it doesn’t pass,” Block said.
Senate rejected the funding system.
The meeting began with reports from Student Body President Meaghan Murtagh, Secretary for Diversity and Inclusion Courtney Rose and Secretary for On-Campus Affairs Effie Fraley.
Murtagh reminded ASG that in light of swearing in new members, senators should remember to interact often with their constituents and to leave their personal lives out of the senate chamber.
“I want you guys to share your opinions, but I want you to leave the debate in this room and try to take a step back and remember to represent the student body,” Murtagh said.
Rose informed senate about the Diversity and Inclusion committee initiatives to alleviate housing costs for students. They plan to draft legislation after the committee meets with the Residence Hall Association (RHA). They also mentioned the committee’s work with Brick Street owner Mark Weisman to offer bystander training — which demonstrates how to intervene in situations that involve harassment and alcohol abuse — to Brick Street’s 350 employees.
Fraley updated senate on their committee’s decision to focus on four main projects this semester. On-Campus Affairs intends to attempt to modify the Ingress (one-door) policy and student meal plans to make both more amenable to students. The committee is currently working to place trash receptacles inside women’s bathroom stalls on campus. They are also partnering with the Student Health Service (SHS) to inform students about the availability of prescription bags with identifying features in hopes of preventing students from sharing their medication.
This year, spending in the Student Body Presidential election cannot exceed $250 for the general election — and an additional $50 in case of a runoff — per ticket. Last year, candidates could spend no more than $1,500 on the general election and $500 should there be a runoff election.
Although some senators were concerned a decreased spending cap would equate to less visibility for the upcoming election, others argued that a higher cap deters potential candidates from running by making them think that a candidate ticket would need to produce $2,000 in campaign funding out-of-pocket.
Tonight, Miami’s Vice President for Finance David Creamer will speak and answer questions in front of ASG. There will also be four elections: one to fill an on-campus 1st district seat, one to fill an on-campus 2nd district seat and two senator-at-large positions.