Student Senate meeting offers updates

Senate

Student senators listen intently and take notes as President Farish shares university updates.

Photo by Kayla Ebner

By Kayla Ebner | Managing Editor

FARISH PROPOSES STUDENT-INCLUSIVE COMMITTEE TO CONTINUE THE ROTC CAMPUS CONVERSATION

Buckle up RWU, there are a lot of changes coming to our campus!

There are many controversial issues circulating around the campus community this semester, many of which are directly correlated to real world issues.

In July, President Donald Trump vowed to ban transgender individuals from the military. Farish responded to Trump’s decision in an email that he sent out in late August. The conclusion of the email stated that the ROTC program may be terminated in order to show support for transgender individuals.

Farish mentioned that the University has a non-discrimination policy, and he struggled to find a way to reconcile this with an organization that is “now going to be forced to discriminate.”

“The challenge was to find a way around the dilemma,” Farish said. “I didn’t want to see ROTC disappear, but how do we square that with our commitment not to allow discrimination?”

Farish also mentioned that he wants to have a “responsible conversation” surrounding this topic, and plans to work alongside the Student Senate to generate a committee before the end of the semester.

By requesting the Senate to encourage 3-5 students to join this committee, Farish hopes that all of the sides being affected by Trump’s proposed ban will have the opportunity to represent their position.

The main question that would be presented for this committee is: “Are we okay with allowing ROTC to be present on the campus even though we say we don’t discriminate?”

“I’m trying to be fair and balanced in this process,” Farish said.

“We’ve got to go ahead and not just let this slide by… we’re going to have to make more noise on it,” Farish said.

If the decision ultimately came down to the ROTC program being affected, Farish made it clear that students who are currently in the program would have the chance to finish. The plan would not be to end the program abruptly; it would instead be “phased out.” In other words, incoming students would not have the opportunity to participate in the ROTC program.

 

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S DAY, SECCM, AND MORE

At the weekly Student Senate meeting, President Farish also shared updates regarding some other very important projects that the university is currently working on, including: the official renaming of Indigenous People’s Day, the new Engineering Building, the confusion over increasing class sizes, a Student Union, plans for the Livingston Property, and renovations for the College of Arts and Sciences building.

Updates from the discussion at the meeting are as follows:

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S DAY/COLUMBUS DAY:  

– Due to last-minute backlash from the Board of Trustees, the plans to change the name of the day were halted. 

– The Board of Trustees has asked Farish to put together a forum to discuss the issue.

– “The idea is to do this in some way that will educate more people about what the issues really are and try and come to some kind of resolution,” Farish said.

– Farish is also thinking about reaching out to the indigenous community so that they are represented at the forum. 

– Farish shared his personal views on the subject, mentioning that he thinks continuing to recognize Christopher Columbus as a person who is deserving of a national holiday is past its time.

NEW ENGINEERING BUILDING: 

– It is the top priority on a long list of projects the university is looking into.

– The engineering program at RWU has been growing and has reached the point of “overflow,” according to Farish.

– Nearby universities are “doubling down” on their engineering programs, including the University of Rhode Island, Johnson and Wales, and Wentworth. 

– The university is in the process of forming a Buildings and Grounds Committee.

INCREASED CLASS SIZES (rumor debunked): 

– At the moment, student to faculty ratios are being maintained; the university has no intentions of raising the ratios or the class sizes.

– Objective is to maintain student population at 4,000, “give or take.”

– Residence halls are growing more crowded due to more students wanting to live on campus, not because of an increase in class sizes.

OTHER ITEMS ON THE LIST INCLUDE: 

– A Student Union: Farish stated that a five-year plan for the union is a “reasonable goal.”

– Tentative plans for the Livingston Property owned by the family of the late Stanley and Martha Livingston may have a focus on climate change and sea level rises.

– Renovations on the College of Arts and Sciences building.

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