USS will be looking at four issues this spring semester

Breanne George

Domestic partner benefits and reforms in Kent State’s election process are some of the key issues the Undergraduate Student Senate will tackle this semester.

An issue of concern to many students is the lack of domestic partner benefits for Kent State faculty and staff, USS Executive Director Bill Ross said.

The USS will hold domestic partner benefits hearings, which will allow both sides of the issue to debate.

“The goal of the hearings is to see if the university should implement these benefits or not,” Ross said. “We want to get the university talking because many students don’t know about the issue.”

Although the hearings were originally scheduled to occur at the USS’s first meeting Jan. 23, Ross said the official date has yet to be determined.

PRIDE! Kent President Christopher Taylor was the major benefactor in getting the hearings passed.

“I really want to get this issue out on the table to spread awareness,” Taylor said. “This affects faculty members, which in turn affects students.”

Taylor said he believes domestic partner benefits at Kent State would attract and retain faculty.

“The Undergraduate Student Senate has a lot of power,” Taylor said. “If they write a resolution, that piece of paper will represent the student body. It would be a huge step for us.”

Another goal for Ross is to pass an election bill that will reform the election process at Kent State.

The commission originally created a two-day election process, but Ross said he wants to officially change the voting to one day since students can now vote on-line.

“A student can vote even if they are studying abroad, so there really is no reason for the election to take up two days,” Ross said. “It will save time and money.”

Other aspects of the bill include making sure the commissioners, students who run the elections, are not employees of the university. Ross said this would ensure there would be no conflict of interest.

Ross said he wants to continue to get the student body interested and involved in the election process.

“We are here to help students and make positive changes for them,” Ross said.

Another goal for Ross this semester is to write a classroom improvement proposal.

“Many of the classrooms are in bad shape and need updated technology,” he said.

The university is proposing a $100 million bond bill that will be financed by an increase of fees for students.

“This will result in $100 extra each year for students,” Ross said. “It will increase $100 each year until it reaches the $500 limit.”

Ross said he is looking for other ways to finance the improvements including private donations or cutting fees for students in other areas.

An on-line poll will be used to gauge initial student reactions to the increase in fees, Ross said. Later in the semester a referendum will be held for students to vote on the proposal.

Another issue that Ross will focus on is the search for a new president of Kent State. Ross is currently on the presidential search committee and will continue to meet with students and interview applicants.

“I feel honored to be a part of such an important process,” Ross said. “This decision will affect students for years to come.”

Contact student politics reporter Breanne George at [email protected].