At Monday night’s Student Government Association meeting, goals for this year were discussed by Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jean Kim, President Akshay Kapoor, Vice President Garrett Gowen and members of the student cabinet.
Motions to appoint new justices to the Student Judiciary were approved, and chair elections were held among the Senate committees.
Rebuilding the Student Union was a chief topic among Kim’s suggested objectives.
“This Student Union was built in 1954, a very long time ago, when our student population was just 4,000 students …the essential footprint has not changed over the many decades, and we’ve lost some space within our Student Union,” Kim said.
“Coming up with a plan to expand, renovate and build a new Student Union is a huge task that I’ve asked the previous administration to look at,” Kim said. “While we do get some state support for new facilities, it is almost always in the academic arena. We have to come up with other and more creative ways to fund the building and we know the price tag is always at least $100 million.”
The vice chancellor also introduced the new Director of Assessment Marcy Clark, who is in charge of all forms of assessment conducted on campus.
Clark briefed the Senate on the results of last semester’s Campus Climate Survey, a comprehensive survey issued to 1,365 undergraduate students with questions focusing on student connections, student engagement, diversity on campus as well as harassment and violence on campus.
The survey found that one in five students had experienced some type of harassment or violence, consisting especially of abusive verbal comments regarding gender and race, made in residence halls or in Amherst Center.
Additionally, one in four respondents said they were unlikely to report harassment directed towards themselves, with one-third confirming that they knew how to report an incident of harassment and violence.
Clark concluded that the SGA should prioritize increasing student confidence in reporting harassment and violence to the administration.
Kapoor spoke briefly about his current objectives, including plans to make the New York Times available on campus as it once was, changes in residential life policy and code, and an effort to renovate the Old Chapel on campus.
“It’s a beautiful building, it’s historic, and we need to get student support,” Kapoor said.
Due to concerns that the chapel is falling into disarray, Kapoor wants student involvement in raising $20 to 30 million through alumni donations.
Gowen expressed concern over the diminished role in Registered Student Organization funding allotted to the SGA over the next few years by the student government bylaws. Gowen confirmed his dedication to changing this situation, arguing that of all the SGA’s work, their funding responsibilities have the most direct impact on student life.
The cabinet also reported their proposals for this year.
Secretary of Veteran Services Rich Jones is seeking in-state tuition for all veterans.
Secretary of Finance Zach Broughton said that because of a level five funding update, it is now easier for RSOs to receive and spend money from the SGA.
Attorney General Matt Berquist announced his intentions to establish a student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.
Berquist also promoted the judicial advisory program, which provides students who have been arrested with legal advice and sometimes representation. Four students have newly been appointed judicial advisors, and another advisor will be hired next spring.
Secretary of the Registry Nick Barton has allocated the full 39 office spaces in the Student Union to RSOs and announced his plans to spend $15,000 in the renovation of these offices and their conversion, where necessary, into storage locker space.
In addition, two new conference rooms will soon be available for free booking by RSOs, as well as the new RSO application form being available on Campus Pulse.
Barton also informed the Senate of his plans to get SGA logos onto all RSO fliers in exchange for advertisement support.
Nicholas Cittadino and Sarah Freudson were appointed as Justices on the Student Judiciary, a group of seven justices who review SGA decisions to confirm that they agree with SGA bylaws. The motions to appoint them, sponsored by Kapoor, won unanimous approval.
A motion to approve pay for the Undersecretary of Registry and Public Relations was tabled to the Administrative Affairs Committee due to minor ambiguity over a last-minute motion to amend its language. The motion is intended to allow pay to the Undersecretary’s on the grounds that they are aid-related roles created by the President and not full Cabinet members.
The meeting concluded with the passing of a motion to approve additional Senators to their committees and with Chair elections within the committees. Two Senate positions are still open in Southwest North.
Matthew Plumb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.