Splitting service learning

A portion of the newly proposed service learning guidelines regarding political activities left Student Senate nearly divided Monday night.

The Senate looked at two resolutions regarding the newly proposed service learning requirements. The first, titled, “In Support of Political Service: Opposing the Service Learning Ban,” authored by 12 senators, asked Senate to reject the proposed service learning guidelines because of restrictions placed on political activity.

A second resolution, co-authored by the Academic Affairs Commission asked that Senate support the new guidelines.

Senate narrowly passed the first resolution and will continue discussion on the second Monday night.

Parliamentarian Jessica Schaid warned the Senate of potential outcomes of passing both resolutions.

“I strongly advise you to take a stance on the issue and stick with it,” she said.

Senator Brandon Buchanan, an author of the resolution, gave a passionate 10-minute speech – the longest amount of time a speaker may address the Senate in a single speaking turn – asking senators to consider that any political activity is for the common good, and should therefore be accepted under service learning.

The senators who authored the bill were asked if they had attended Academic Affairs Commission meetings, which often dealt with service learning. Senator Jon Radcliffe was the only author to attend the meetings.

Some senators voiced concerns over this, and reminded the authors that the Senate’s time may have been better spent if they voiced concerns to the commission before bringing it to Student Senate.

Two authors, senators Sara Bachleitner and J.P. Severson, asked that they be removed as authors of the resolution.

Buchanan, a senior, argued that lobbying for special viewpoints is part of what makes the United States a great nation.

“We have fought wars and people have died over the idea that people must speak out,” he said.

Former Senator and senior Matt Wisnefske attended the meeting and also voiced concerns about not accepting the new guidelines based on questions concerning political activity.

Wisnefske reminded the Senate that in 1930s Germany, a group was allowed to express their political ideas, and that in the end did not benefit society.

Wisnefske also said senators were missing the underlying connection between promoting political ideas and religious ideas.

“It seems like … the 800-pound gorilla in the room is that (some senators) want their hobby OK’d, but don’t care about religion,” he said.

Senator Adrienne Roach reminded the Senate that the guidelines did not restrict all political involvement, only that which is considered partisan. Those with political interests could still participate in activities like the New Voters Project or volunteer to be a poll worker, she said.

After hours of debate, the Senate voted in favor of the resolution by a vote of 12-10-5.

The Senate then considered the resolution on accepting the revised service learning guidelines, but discussion was cut short around 10:50 p.m. because Davies Center closes at 11 p.m. on weekdays. Discussion will continue at 6 p.m. Monday in the Tamarack Room in Davies Center.