With an additional cost of $50 imposed by the Marshall Student Center (MSC), Student Government (SG) no longer streams Senate meetings on Facebook for students this semester.
Due to the high number of Senate meetings, streaming would put a strain on the Legislative branch’s budget, which is funded through Activity and Service (A&S) fees, according to Senate President Sarah Lucker. The A&S fee is included in every student’s tuition and funds things like student organizations.
“Taking $50 out of student fees for each one of these meetings would be an additional burden on the pool of money that is already restricted by the needs of many different departments and organizations,” Lucker said.
A system called Panopto was used previously during all the Senate meetings for streaming, according to Lucker. The system was built into the MSC Senate chambers computer and recorded audio and video, which is why there was not a charge last year.
“I think it is critical for students to be able to know what is occurring during Senate meetings and Panopto was a great way for students to be able to immediately access any conversations we have in the Senate Chambers,” Lucker said. “I would greatly prefer not to have to pay an additional cost when our budget is already so tight."
The Senate meets on a weekly basis each semester, except for syllabus and finals week.
Lucker is working with members of the executive branch to obtain more information on how they filmed meetings in the past, why that kind of livestream wasn't continued and to see if there is a way to train one senator to operate the camera equipment.
During last year’s winter break, the MSC updated all the conference rooms by adding computers, cameras and microphones, including in the chamber room where all the weekly Senate meetings are held, according to Aron Strong, AV operations manager for the MSC.
Strong said the $50 charge is a pre-existing one to all clients. Last year, SG livestreamed Senate meetings using their personal computers and cameras. The chamber room already had cameras installed. However, they were not functioning properly.
Due to the unexpected extra cost for livestreaming Senate meetings, SG stopped requesting use of the system.
“The new equipment is connected directly to the computer in the room and to use the equipment would mean the client would need to rent the computer,” Strong said. “This policy has not changed and that is the reason for the $50 charge.”
According to Strong, livestreaming stopped because SG decided to not use the equipment.
“The MSC had nothing to do with the decision to end the live streaming of their meetings and has never stopped SG from using their own equipment,” Strong said. “The equipment is available to rent anytime they need it.”
Without livestreaming, students and senators can still access audio files and typed minutes from each Senate meeting. However, those options are not as readily available as the livestream once was.
“The Senate serves as the voice of the student body and we need to be able to amplify their concerns,” Lucker said. “This is exponentially more difficult if students aren't aware of the choices that we are facing or how to contact us.”