Student senate address US Congress, NH House of Representatives

By Adam J. Babinat
On February 27, 2012

UNH student senate reached out to the United States Congress at Sunday night's meeting, as first-year senator Bryan Merrill advocated for a resolution that would call for the U.S. Congress Judiciary Committee to swiftly reach a decision regarding U.S. House Bill 2028. This bill is known to the general public as Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act of 2011, and would amend Title 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to include student loans as forgivable debt.

In the resolution, Merrill called for the U.S. Speaker to bring H.B. 2028 for debate before the session ends so that it does not require reintroduction in the next session.

Addressing Congress is not a first for UNH, as it was commonplace back in the ‘60s and ‘70s for student senate to address national issues. Over the course of the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s, this practice started to die out, which makes this resolution stand out. According to Merrill, the fear of Congress ignoring the resolution is not anything he is concerned with.

"Even though it is a very small chance that you may change a decision, there is still that small chance," Merrill said.

A brief debate followed as various senators stated their opinions about the resolution, focusing on the issue of what impact this could have for future college students and what they would be able to attain. Once the debate subsided, student senate passed the resolution unanimously.

This was not the last senate saw of senator Bryan Merrill, who next targeted the N.H. House of Representatives with a resolution that advocated against H.B. 1264. The reasons given in the resolution by Merrill were senate's adamant opposition to H.B. 1264 and the blatant discrimination it represents.

H.B. 1264 is a bill that was created to allow business owners and employees to refuse service (specifically marriage-related services) to couples based on their sexual orientation. Wording within the bill is considered vague to the point where it could allow for businesses to refuse services based on other reasons, such as religion, disability, race, or appearance.

Discussion ensued amongst student senate, and Student Body President A.J. Coukos brought up the idea that this was an issue regarding the sanctity of marriage.

Coukos asked senators to consider that idea when voting, as he felt the bill is part of a much larger debate that is being discussed nationwide. In the end, the resolution was tabled until the meeting on March 4.

Merrill was disappointed with the resolution being tabled, as he felt this was an issue that senators, as public figures, should have set aside from their personal opinions, whether they are religiously or politically motivated, and voted on behalf of a significant population not only here at UNH, but also throughout the nation.

"The rights of a human being should not be deprived on any basis," Merrill said.

He called for students to talk to a student senator in order to express their opinions on the matter, or even attend the upcoming student senate meeting in order to have their voices heard as the resolution comes up to vote once more.

The final resolution was in regard to traffic safety around the Woodside Apartments. It was a resolution put forth by Christopher Lynch, Kim Pzegeo and Rebecca Bonder, and called for the UNH Traffic Safety Committee to install directional signs around the Woodside Apartment area in order to establish a better traffic flow to increase safety.

According to Lynch, results could be seen from this resolution immediately as well as over the course of this summer, as work would be completed and ready for the fall semester. The resolution was passed with little debate.

Student senate will meet again next Sunday at 6 p.m. in room 314 of McConnell Hall.

By Adam J.

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