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Ohio University Student Senate Vice President Hannah Burke speaks during the body’s meeting on Sept. 26. (FILE)

Student Senate: Members pass bill to endorse Student Legal Services

Student Senate members passed a bill to endorse the contract renewal for the Center of Student Legal Services and increase the service fee from $12 to $15 at Wednesday’s meeting.

Pat McGee, managing attorney at Center of Student Legal Services, or CSLS, gave a presentation at the beginning of the meeting that asked Student Senate members to endorse the bill and explained how the legal services offered is important for Ohio University students.

McGee, who is also an at-large member of Athens City Council, said the office opened in 1997 after Student Senate pushed forward a bill that would get the office open. CSLS is a nonprofit organization that gives legal services for Ohio University students, such as representations in courts of Athens, civil issues and misdemeanors.  

Amal Afyouni, International Affairs commissioner and a bill sponsor, said the bill reaffirms Student Senate’s support for CSLS. The increase in the fee will happen in June if the university approves the renewal CSLS.

“(The fee increase) will take effect if the university does sign onto it and does agree to the $15 fee and does renew the contract they have together then the fee will change from $12 to $15, which isn’t a huge change in my opinion,” Afyouni said. “It goes to great services. It goes to something that is super necessary for students open.”

CSLS is funded by the fee students pay for services, which is waivable by students. In 2008, CSLS took a hit with lower enrollment due to the recession and the number of students waiving the fee. At the time, the fee was $8 per quarter. The fee was raised to $12 per semester in 2010. 

“For the price for two burritos per semester, you’re getting a lawyer,” Jon Schlosser, a Governmental Affairs Commissioner, said.

Student Senate also passed a bill to renovate the South Green basketball courts. This would include adding new backboards, smoother concrete, new nets, trash cans and benches. 

Brian Jones, Black Affairs commissioner, and Owen Aliu, Black Affairs senator, both sponsored the bill and spoke to Pete Trentacoste, executive director of Housing and Residence Life. Trentacoste has shown support for the renovations and gave verbal confirmation that would be earliest of Spring Semester 2019 and the latest being Fall Semester 2020, according to the agenda.

Jones said the construction would not be that expensive — about $600. The changes most likely won’t be seen until next semester since it is difficult to do construction while students are at school. 

The bill also made a point to address the area of the basketball courts used as a makeshift skate park. The construction would not affect that court that is used.

Senate members also passed four resolutions at the meeting. Three of the resolutions appointed Ava Schmidt to the Off-Campus Commission, Nikkiya Addison to the Women’s Affairs Commission and Courtney Archibald as the Fine Arts senator for the Academics Affairs Commission.

The last resolution passed was to update the Judicial Panel’s succession and specifics. The rules before stated that executive justice could become chief justice, but a requirement was to serve for one year. 

Recently, the former chief justice, Matthew Thomas, resigned, and the executive justice did not meet the one-year experience requirement to fill the position. Walter Mihoan, formerly the clerk of courts for the Judicial Panel, was appointed as the new chief justice for the rest of this academic year.

The changes to Chapter 4 of the Rules and Procedures over the Judicial Panel were updated to reflect these changes, according to the agenda.

Student Trustees Faith Voinovich and Austin McClain also gave a presentation summarizing the October Board of Trustees meeting. They discussed academics, construction and audit planning. Some topics included the Richland Pedestrian Bridge project, audit reports from the university’s external auditor and university enrollment.


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