Senate GBM recap, March 11

On March 11, the Senate discussed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Initiative, percentage minimums in student government elections, the rise in hate crimes toward Asian-Americans, and the announcement of unlimited digital access to The New York Times for all Carnegie Mellon students.

The Undergraduate Senate Finance Committee proposed an initiative to encourage the university to pay undergraduates on DEI committees. The committee asserted that these committees, both academic and non-academic, benefit undergraduates greatly and involve emotional labor, and students at other universities, such as the University of Michigan, have called for compensating their students doing diversity work. The committee proposed writing a letter to the Carnegie Mellon administration to pay students on DEI committees, having it be endorsed by the Senate, and allowing the general student body to sign the letter as well. Also, since the Senate cannot compensate students, the committee proposed paying for a meal for students on DEI committees and giving them special allocation funding for certain items. As part of the proposal, the Finance Committee, in collaboration with the Advocacy Committee, would also send out a survey to DEI students to gather more information on what they do, giving them compensation for completing the survey. The proposal passed 16-0-1.

The Senate also continued its discussion of whether to change the current policy on percentage minimums from last week. The Elections Board already voted to assess percentage minimums after every round of the single transferable vote (STV) process but wanted further input from senators. Percentage minimums in the past were shown to have affected one election, in which two candidates were running for the Student Body Vice President for Finance position. One candidate, who ended up winning the position, secured 80 percent of the graduate vote, while the other secured 10 to 20 percent of the graduate vote. However, graduate student turnout has historically been low, and in that election, only one-third of the graduate student body voted. Senator James Gallicchio (SCS) argued that it could be unfair to implement percentage minimums, as it could penalize candidates for low graduate turnout. However, Senator Diana Crookston (DEH) countered that it was reasonable to ask candidates to meet the percentage minimum, as it was only one percent the day before the meeting. They further discussed whether to assess percentage minimums after the entire STV process to avoid eliminating as many candidates as possible. As this discussion did not concern a bylaw override, it was not voted upon.

The Advocacy Committee also brought forth discussion on the recent rise in hate crimes toward Asian-Americans. They considered releasing a statement on social media to show their stance and redirecting students to resources such as Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS), DEI, and reportit. They also deliberated sending out an anonymous survey to assess the campus atmosphere with respect to these hate crimes and garner testimonies.

The Senate was also able to secure unlimited digital access to The New York Times (NYT) for all Carnegie Mellon students. In a statement to The Tartan, Coordinator of Student Leadership, Involvement, & Civic Engagement Andrew Greenwald said, "Whether you’re writing a paper or planning for the weekend ahead, discover original, quality journalism that helps you understand the world — and make the most of every part of life. You now have access to The New York Times, compliments of the Undergraduate Student Senate and University Library. Activate your access today by visiting, search for Carnegie Mellon University, and use your .edu email address to sign up. If you already have an account associated with your .edu email address, there is an option to link your existing account."