Potluck, games may have ushered in new era in CSUN

The CSUN Senate held a senate development retreat on Sunday without spending student money.

At a March meeting, the senate defeated a proposal to spend $1,100 on the annual event, with a 9-8-5 vote.

Instead of holding a half day of team-building workshops, housing senators on campus overnight and then taking a morning hike, the group had a potluck dinner at a CSUN member’s house on Saturday night and met to enjoy games and potluck leftovers in the Student Union Ballroom on Sunday afternoon.

“I think this is what students wanted,” said sciences senator Memona Khan, who voted against the proposed spending. “Nothing extravagant at retreats.”

“Mentality’s changing in CSUN,” said engineering senator Lou Pombo, who also opposed the bill.

He was among those who supported the Rebels United ticket’s run for the CSUN Executive Board. The party campaigned on promises of fiscal responsibility and student-centered spending.

Vice president-elect Sara Farr agreed with Pombo’s estimation of an attitude shift within the undergraduate student government.

“I think it’s happening at the perfect time,” she said. “because we want mentality to change as the new Executive Board is coming in.”

Farr joined undergraduate student body president-elect Mark Ciavola and senate president-elect Jay Yoon in presenting the 2012-13 administration’s budget plan.

The plan calls for a 21 percent cut in CSUN spending on salaries and reflects the incoming executives’ interest in developing institutional consistency.

Yoon said that the new administration plans to hold informal information sessions like Sunday’s briefing, where representatives can get to know important issues without having to follow parliamentary procedure.

“You can ask us questions without being bogged down by Robert’s Rules of Order,” he said.

All senators were required to attend the development retreat, but less than half were present for the budget talk.

Yoon told the senators present that they could help their colleagues understand the plan so that discussion of the budget in formal senate sessions could be limited.

Liberal arts senator Ashley Celis, who chairs the Senate Development Committee, explained that the activities were designed to help student representatives develop the skills they need in CSUN.

Senators played a game called Minefields in which half of the participants were blindfolded and asked to make their way through an obstacle course of objects on the floor. Each blindfolded senator had a guide who instructed him or her how to avoid pitfalls.

“It’s all about community and learning,” Celis said. “That it’s hard to talk over other people.”


Contact Haley Etchison at news@unlvrebelyell.com.