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Council members implement legislative structure changes

For the first time in several years, Student Council is undergoing a major structural change that will split representatives into three teams to develop a cohesive plan for the coming semester.

Although the idea has been in the works since last year, this fall marks the first use of the new structure. Each team of about 10 people plays a role in creating a legislative agenda, or plan of action, for the coming year.

This year's agenda, discussed and finalized Saturday, contains seven items Council hopes to target this semester.

These issues include safety on Grounds, 24-hour library access, off-Grounds Internet accessibility, improving faculty salaries and increasing Council's visibility.

Council Executive Vice President Ronnie Washington, who created the new structure, said he hopes the legislative agenda will give a "more coherent focus" to Council this semester.

In previous semesters, Council has not established formal goals, and instead passed "a random bunch of resolutions," Washington said.

He said he hopes the agenda will increase Council's "visibility and accountability to students" and let students know "what [Council] is going to be about during this administration."

Each team will focus on two or three concerns of the student body. There are three team leaders - College Reps. Brendan Dignan and Andrew Woodson, and Engineering Rep. Vince Lim. Each leader is responsible for communicating the concerns of the team not only to Council, but also to the administration and student body.

Woodson also said he felt having a clearly stated agenda would bring more order to Council's pursuits.

"I think the new agenda will allow Council to more effectively address student concerns, and keep Council working to solve problems of the entire University community," he said.

He added that the team concept will make it easier for Council to follow up on legislation after it has been passed.

Washington said one of his original goals was to help foster a sense of unity among representatives.

The team system will "make Council a little less divisive," he said.

Jamey Thompson, Council vice president for organizations, said he also felt the new system created a sense of teamwork among the representatives.

"I think you have dedicated people working together in groups instead of on their own," Thompson said.

In light of the recent attacks on female students in the University area, several Council members said safety should be at the top of Council's agenda for the year.

"I think safety is by far the most important issue. If people don't feel comfortable, nothing else really matters," Thompson said.

While Washington said he is "not in a position to prioritize" Council's goals, he said he thought safety is a pressing issue.

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