Student government met Dec. 1 for their weekly meeting in Merten Hall 1201. Key legislation of the day would include the passing of Resolution 26 in support of all ideas and political ideologies at Mason and elections for the chairs of the Administrative & Financial Affairs Committee, the Diversity & Multicultural Affairs Committee and the Academic Affairs Committee.
Resolution 26 was first introduced at the senate’s regularly scheduled meeting Nov. 17. The resolution was originally drafted in response to comments made by Mason’s Assistant Director of Admissions Andrew Bunting who, following the election of Donald Trump, took to his private Facebook page and stated that those who agreed with the National Organization of Marriage, an organization that was very happy with the Trump win and looked forward to the potential rollback of LGBTQ rights, were “worthless piece[s] of trash.”
The comments subsequently sparked anger and division on campus and within the Senate itself. Chairwoman Danni Gonyo was one of the first to speak on the resolution, stating that “This issue deserves discretion. We don’t discuss hot button issues, we deliberate.”
However, not everyone on the senate felt the same.
“This is a controversial issue and there are many here who wish to speak to it. Holding the issue for the next two weeks would not be conducive,” Senator Jalen Stubblefield said.
Senator Cammie Wires agreed with Stubblefield.
“It is not fair to wait any longer. We are all adults and as a result we have to accept the consequences of our actions,” Wires said.
Mason’s Dean of Admissions Amy Takayama-Perez was also in attendance at the meeting and spoke to the Senate about the admissions process, stating that not only were there 14 people on the admissions team, but that “No one single person in our office or under our oversight can deny or waitlist a student.”
Takayama-Perez went on to say that there was no data to support anyone having a bias in the admissions process and that should any bias be found there would be swift and severe action.
A number of those in attendance spoke in support of the resolution while others called for the passage of a revised resolution.
The resolution’s author, Senator Fred Edwards, also spoke on the issue.
“This is a hot button issue that needs to be dealt with in a timely manner. We can either pass or amend, but failure to pass this resolution sends a message to all that we are ok with admissions marginalizing groups of students,” Edwards said. “There is freedom of speech but not freedom of consequence.”
Eventually, however, Resolution 26 was sent to the committee of Academics & Financial Affairs. The committee met the next day, Friday, Nov. 18. Following a long meeting, they revised the resolution and passed said resolution.
It was during this time that Speaker of the Senate Caleb Kitchen said, “The leadership promotes open dialogue in all of our debates, and the primary focus should be on achieving the best results on behalf of the students. The process is here for a reason, to make a better quality resolution happen.”
The resolution was eventually passed with little debate at the Dec. 1 meeting.
When asked about the passage of the resolution, Edwards said, “It feels great. We’re standing with students, though I wish it had passed sooner, but I’m glad it passed. It shows that we make good on our promises.”
Stubblefield echoed his colleague in the passage of the resolution.
“When it first came in, only certain groups could get behind it, with other groups against it. But we came together, and it just goes to show that we’re stronger together and that when we listen first and compromise, we can better serve the student body,” Stubblefield said.
In addition to Resolution 26, the Senate also voted to make Senator Emily Sexauer chair of the Diversity & Multicultural Affairs Committee, Senator Caiti Lively chair of the Administrative & Financial Affairs Committee and Senator Fred Edwards chair of the Academic Affairs Committee.
Following the election, Sexauer said, “I’m very excited to be elected to the position, as well as to see what happens next. I hope to make the committee the best it can be and to work with all the groups on campus, as the reason people come to Mason is because of our diversity.”
Senator Lively was also looking forward to her new position.
“I’m super excited. We have a lot of initiatives, and I’m excited to work with all of the communities here at Mason,” Lively said. “This was the first committee I joined and I hope to not only continue the legacy of Senator Stubblefield but also serve the student body and make sure the Senate runs properly.”
Edwards — or George, as some on the Senate affectionately refer to him due to his likeness to the nation’s first president — took more of a professional tone when speaking of the election.
“It feels good,” Edwards said, “and I hope that in this position I will be able to help the committee work more efficiently.”