During time designated for introducing, debating and passing new legislation, members of the Student Senate held two separate discussions concerning pineapple on pizza and the introduction of a parody bill.
At the Nov. 28 session of the Student Senate, Kevin Boyd, chair of the Student Services Committee, introduced senate bill 58. This bill included items such as allowing the chairman of the Student Services Committee to declare war on media outlets, countries and other universities, and forcing all members of Student Government to laugh at the chairman’s jokes.
“It is any senator’s right to put up any piece of legislation they see fit,” said Patrick Ellis, Speaker of the Student Senate. “However, I think it’s very important that we put up legislation that is serious [and] decorous.”
Boyd said this bill is a parody bill addressing the dangers of flawed democracy and autocracy and that his statements in the bill directly reflect problems he sees in the world today.
“I think satire is a very important form of criticism, and I stand fully behind that claim in all circumstances, whether it be a Twitter account, whether it be a piece of literature or whether it be a piece of legislation that’s not at all meant to be passed in the first place,” Boyd said.
Senate bill 58 was tabled immediately after Boyd motioned to bring it to the floor for discussion.
“I would say that we are an extremely professional body,” said Patrick Greene, vice chairman of the judiciary committee. “As you saw, 58 was written but we never ended up actually talking about it. It was tabled because of the professionalism aspect.”
Boyd believed the Student Senate understood senate bill 58 to be a parody bill full of satirical commentary but that they tabled the bill indefinitely because they did not want to discuss it.
“Obviously it was meant to be a joke bill, however I do not think tabling a bill on the first reading calendar based on its content was ... why we have those parliamentary procedures," Boyd said, "and I think doing so is a manipulation of parliamentary procedures."
Any senator is allowed to bring any piece of legislation to the floor for discussion, according to parliamentary procedure.
“We’ve got accountability and we’re looking at what our senators are doing and the type of legislation they’re putting up,” Ellis said. “I think it is important to kinda notice what happened to the bill. It, for parliamentary procedure, is immediately tabled indefinitely, before even discussed.”
During open discussion at the end of Senate session, Greene mentioned an earlier conversation about whether pineapple should be allowed on pizza.
“And I think often times we are, as a Student Senate, criticized for being so cold and not being personable enough, so I think that was an excellent opportunity for us to show our humanity," Greene said. "We do keep that level of professionalism all the time as you can see with a lot of the bills and stuff that we've passed and the change that we’ve been able to inflict this year."
The discussion period for one senator has a time limit, but senators attempted to extend the discussion period through a roll call vote causing confusion among senators after the session had lasted for over two hours.
“I think it’s appropriate to make use, ample use, of time and appropriate use of time,” said Student Body President Taylor Wright. “I will not comment on whether or not I think it was appropriate.”
Ellis emphasized that shutting down a discussion based on the subject matter would set a precedent for ending any discussion because someone disagreed with the topic.
“It is within parliamentary procedure for them to have those discussions,” Ellis said. “Not to give you a normative opinion on whether I think that should be discussed, it is their right to discuss it. One reason I think it’s important that it can’t immediately be shut down is you have to think for legislative tactics such as the filibuster.”
Wright said he is thankful for the legislation Student Senate has passed this semester and hopes they will continue to represent the student body effectively.
“I think Senate has done great work, and I always encourage them to have fun but be serious and make sure we remember why we’re here and who elected us and remember the true purpose, because sometimes I think it's tough to remember that,” Wright said.