Fairfield University Student Association senators rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have constituted the Health and Wellness Committee into a FUSA board during an Oct. 11 general meeting. 

While senators were supposed to hold a vote for Bill 60-001, Modern Amendments to the FUSA Constitution, the process was disrupted by a group of senators who expressed dissatisfaction with the parliamentary process and instead preferred to hold votes for each section of the bill.

“Is it possible to have the bill broken up by sections so we don’t have to vote on it altogether?” asked senior student Sen. Jake McGlinchy, during the floor debate. 

Another senator, Stefano Volpe ‘25, also questioned the motive for why the changes to the organization’s constitution were placed onto one bill, instead of breaking them into smaller bills.

“A part of it is for convenience, that [is the reason why it] was put all together. After our discussion with FUSA Executive about amendments in general, we wanted to get a lot of them down because the process for amendments is a really strenuous one and we really cared [about the proposed amendments],” said Senate Speaker Steven Burns ‘24 in response to Volpe’s question.

Burns also described that having multiple, smaller bills on the same issue would have meant hosting different public forums with limited discussion and a more complicated process of ratification that needs at least two-thirds of approval from the 90 students who work for the FUSA Executive branch. One comprehensive bill solves, according to Burns, the problem of “getting hold of the people who would be voting.”

Another question that surfaced from the pre-vote debate was on the proposed amendment that would allow Bellarmine campus students to be FUSA officers “position dependent”. 

“In the FUSA Constitution, Article III will include Section 3.2.2, which states that ‘Position dependent, FUSA Officers may be students that are enrolled in Fairfield Bellarmine,’” reads Section 2, subsection B of Bill 60-001.

Senior Matthew Adamski, one of the senators, raised the concern about whether Bellarmine students would be eligible to run for Senate.

“There is nothing in the bill about senators from Bellarmine,” said Burns. “Bellarmine students would get the opportunity to get involved in FUSA, which means FUSA officers as well as clubs on campus.”

A summer executive order signed on July 18 by President Aliyah Seenauth ‘24 established Bellarmine students will have a “Bellarmine President and Vice President and two Bellarmine Senators.” In the case of the two Bellarmine senators, Section 5.1.3 of the order denoted that they “are expected to attend all General Senate Meetings [and] will follow the same expectations that of FUSA Senators.” 

Due to the approved amendments, the executive order will no longer be in effect but it is still unclear what  FUSA positions will be restricted from Bellarmine students.

Bill Saved After Multiple Rounds of Votes 

The first vote of the night occurred after Senator Volpe introduced the motion to vote on Bill 60-001. Of the 20 senators that composed the body, seven voted in favor, four against the bill and seven decided to abstain for reasons that were not provided. 

As the bill failed to reach the three-fourths majority required, Speaker Burns and Jeremy Kaler, Director of Student Engagement directed senators to refrain from abstaining if they did not have a conflict of interest.

“I strongly encourage everyone when we do votes like these, and I should have done it before, to vote, because abstaining removes yourself from the pool of voters, and your power as a senator comes from your ability to vote,” expressed a frustrated Burns 40 minutes into the Senate meeting.

At 7:22 p.m., a second vote was held but also failed to reach the three-fourths threshold, with just four votes away.

To save the bill, senators then proceeded to have four rounds of voting to vote on sections one, two, three and four to seven of the failed Modern Amendments to the FUSA Constitution bill.

The final votes were 18-2, 20-0, 12-8 and 20-0, with section three of the bill failing to reach the necessary majority. 

In a written statement to The Mirror prior to the vote, President Seenauth expressed that the Health and Wellness proposal follows the university’s “path of improved student wellness initiatives” and is in tune with her administration’s goal of serving as advocates for students. 

“I initially passed the committee through an executive order, but amending the consultation through senate processes will potentially allow it to serve as an official board on the Executive Cabinet,” expressed Seenauth. “This allows for longevity of Health & Wellness and further engages in the idea of our campus becoming wellness centered.”

Even though the vote denied the H&W Committee from becoming a FUSA board, they will still remain active due to an executive order signed on March 8, 2023 by then-President Jordan Gale and President-Elect Aliyah Seenauth that stipulated “that the 76th FUSA President shall create a FUSA Health & Wellness Committee.”

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