Student Senate addresses safety, electoral code

By Will DeWitt

Student Senate held an information session of recent on-campus safety issues and passed a new bill to amend the electoral code on Thursday.

The meeting began by addressing the alert error that occurred during last week’s manhunt of two suspects in local cash store robberies.

Warren Ricks, associate vice president and chief risk management officer, informed the senators about Baylor’s actions to keep students safe in the wake of the incident involving armed suspects on campus and apologized to the 1,400 students that did not receive the alerts right away.

“It was a human element error,” said Ricks, “This was not inconsequential with us.”

Ricks said that after the incident, he and his department immediately began working with the IT department to make sure the directory used to alert students would be completely automated and free of human error.

Ricks assured the senators that the university is doing all it can to keep its students safe.

Along with the text, voicemail and e-mail alerts students have been accustomed to, the Risk Management Office is adding social networking (such as Facebook and Twitter) to inform students, parents and alumni about happenings on campus.

Risk management is also working on improving lighting throughout campus.

At the meeting, the Campaign Workers Reform Bill, the first part of extensive revisions to the electoral code, came into second hearing and was passed by the student senators.

The bill, led by the operations and procedures committee that reviews bills involving internal issues and official documents, will amend the electoral code to more clearly define the administrative capacities of a candidate’s campaign worker.

“You can’t plan an election when you don’t know what a campaign worker is,” said Houston sophomore Cody Orr, one of the bill’s sponsors.

The electoral commission, represented by electoral commissioner Gregg Ortiz, was available at the meeting to field questions by senators about the bill.

“There are issues with campaign workers every year, and some of which do deal with the definition of a campaign worker,” Ortiz, a Houston junior, said.

But Ortiz voiced concern that the bill will limit the commission’s ability to handle issues with campaign workers in a quick and efficient manner.

He said that under the original code, the commission handles each case individually, and that the parties involved are considered innocent until proven guilty.

Orr clarified that the proposed changes still left room for the Electoral Commission to decide on cases that involve campaign workers.

“We want to make it easier for the electoral commission,” Orr said.

The changes will more clearly define a campaign worker and his or her responsibilities, such as running a Facebook page, setting up and taking down signs, putting up fliers and speaking officially on behalf of the candidates.

The meeting also saw the election of eight new freshmen and sophomore senators.