The Weber State University Student Association Senate are being forced out of their current office to make way for an adviser, leaving them without a dedicated space to fulfill their duties.
The Senate office is located in the Student Involvement and Leadership office in the Shepherd Union and is used for senators to gather, plan and meet with students. With the move, the Senate no longer has a private office in which to work.
“The office moving is not the issue. It’s that I’m being asked ‘What are we going to do for the time being?’” said Jeff Henry, Senate Vice President. “With recent events of there being no office for Senate at all and no timeline for an office to be available for Senate, these are many of the concerns expressed by senators that I now share.”
The original plan, as Henry understood it, was for the Senate to switch offices with the Clubs and Organizations advisor and for the move to happen over spring break. Henry was informed of the move in January.
However, the plans changed so that the Senate would no longer have the Clubs and Organizations advisor’s office and the move would now happen before spring break.
The Senate is now without an office in which to meet.
“This decision not only affects senators but the students,” Henry said. “When students have concerns that they would like to address with their senator, there is no guaranteed safe place for them to talk without others hearing.”
Senators used the office to write bills and by-laws that affect the student body. Those bills and by-laws require time and effort to be worked out properly, he said. With no office, the senators will be forced to find or schedule conference rooms in order to do their work.
The SIL director said the move has been planned for several weeks and the Senate should not be hurt over the office moving.
“This is definitely not, nor has it ever been, an eviction or eviction notice in any way,” said Tara Peris, Director of Student Involvement and Leadership. “SIL is constantly evaluating the programs and initiatives our office provides, which includes the physical work spaces for students.”
Peris used the word evicted regarding SIL’s decision to relocate the Student Senate in a comment at the end of a Shepherd Union tenant’s meeting on Feb. 16, according to a member of the Signpost present at the meeting.
In response to the office being designated to a staff member, Peris went on to say that this relocation is necessary for the WSUSA.
“As new professional staff members have been hired and as the staff of SIL continually seek to accomplish the goals set by SIL’s long-term strategic plan,” Peris said, “assessment of all office and work spaces were, and continue to be, evaluated.
“It’s not a matter of willingness because it wasn’t a request or a question,” said Peris. “It was a decision that I made to accommodate a faculty member.”
WSUSA Executive Board members have been in the middle of this Senate office debacle.
“I think they need to be out in the regular area,” said board member Hayley Tomney.
The Senate’s lack of meeting space is an issue that Henry sees as problematic. He said, “Senate needs a permanent work space to conduct legislative business and policy for the student body as a whole.”
In the interim, The Signpost has offered their workspace on the fourth floor of the Shepherd Union as a temporary residence. Executive Board members and SIL advisers objected to that move in a meeting Feb. 16.