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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Senate opens outsourcing debate

 
 

The Student Senate passed a bill Wednesday evening advocating for student representation in any further discussions regarding the outsourcing of facilities services at Texas A&M.
Staff workers and students petitioned during the open forum portion of the meeting before the Senate voted or debated, voicing opinions and sharing personal anecdotes to the assembly.
“During my freshman year, I felt out of touch on campus,” said Berenice Hernandez, sophomore bilingual education major. “The only people who would ever say ‘Hello,’ or ask me how my day was going were the custodial staff. They helped me get through a very rough first year.”
Staff workers turned out to petition for their benefits and positions. Some held signs reading, “Trash is disposable, we are not” and, “Aggies never lie, cheat or steal.”
Custodial supervisor Blanca Pinalez shared her personal experience working for a privatized company prior to employment with the University.
“When you separate the workers from the community, you lose loyalty and trust,” Pinalez said. “We bring joy and familiarity to the students here, and that’s something you can never get with private vendors.”
Custodial supervisor Francisca Martinez received a standing ovation after she pleaded on hands and knees for the assembly to protect “the only work I know: taking care of that cherished field [Kyle Field] step by step and game by game.”
Bill authors Scott Bowen and Mark Womack stressed that the Senate desires the highest possible service for the University at the best price, but also said senators were concerned with outsourcing’s ramifications for the “Aggie family.”
“This bill doesn’t take a position for or against the outsourcing issue. That isn’t for this assembly to decide,” Womack said, referring to the 64th session, which is in its last few weeks of meetings before dissolving at the end of the academic year. “We’re simply advocating our involvement from this point forward.”
After initial discussion and clarification, the assembly motioned for a number of amendments, something the authors were prepared to receive.
Most called for rhetorical restructuring of bill language to clarify the bill’s purpose, but some voiced concern that an inherent bias existed at the core of the piece.
Student senator Matt Van Dine worried a distinction between “Aggies” and “Aggie family,” as used in the bill, needed clarification, if only to rule out implications of providing Silver Taps and Muster for staff workers.
Heated discussion continued among Senate members as student senator Fernando Sosa motioned for a Senate representative in all outsourcing discussions.
“The reason many don’t believe the Student Senate isn’t doing anything is because they don’t see our involvement,” student senator Jody Harris said. “Getting a member in there can only help our image.”
Amid contentious topics of debate, co-author Scott Bowen was adamant in keeping to core issues of the bill in mind.
Concerns brought up by senators included the fate of student workers who relied on their jobs to support their educational and living costs, and how the privatization of resources would affect student representation in dining service discussions.
After deliberation, the bill passed with a 42-3 vote.

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