First SGA meeting begins with a new Senate

By Catherine Ferris

(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)
(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

In the first official meeting of the Student Government Association this year, members gathered to discuss various points for the upcoming semester, in addition to formally recognizing and swearing in the new Senate.

The meeting began Monday night with a lecture by Becky Lockwood of the Center for Women and Community and Kelly Burgess of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity about Title IX.

Title IX became part of the United States Education Amendments in 1972. It must be abided by students, faculty, staff, third parties, off-campus conduct and any university-sponsored event with no geographical boundaries.

It states, “No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

The two women explained various types of harassment and the different ways assaults are handled after being reported.

It was also mentioned that there is an effort to bring Know Your IX, a group that fights sexual assault on campuses, to the University.

After a 10-minute recess, SGA President Vinayak Rao began presenting the fall elections report for the student Senate. A total of 3,352 students voted, 15 percent of the eligible student body.

The recently-elected senators were then sworn in, and speakers addressed the SGA members about their plans and goals, both long and short-term.

Sarah Freudson, student trustee, discussed her job and several other goals.
She explained that the purpose of her role is to represent the entire student body, both graduate and undergraduate students, and occasionally faculty. Freudson went on to talk about what she hopes to see as the semester progresses. This includes expanding escort services and initiating talks about legalizing pepper spray.

Rao followed Freudson, addressing the “Blarney Blowout” report. He said he believes community policing would be a valuable thing to consider, and told the SGA it would be a term used much more frequently.

He added that he hopes to “encourage the entire campus community to discuss the problem of high risk drinking,” and touched upon Chairwoman Jennifer Raichel’s plan to work on a campaign to raise awareness about binge drinking.

Sionan Barrett, speaker of the Senate, talked about several of her goals, including reforming the SGA election process – a topic brought up by many of her fellow senators.

Other speakers of the cabinet spoke about their goals, as well.

Secretary of Diversity Josh Odam said he hopes to increase partnership between the Center for Education Policy and Advocacy (CEPA) and Student Bridges. He also said that he would like to “encourage students of color, both in SGA and not in SGA to attend the Students of Color Caucus.”

Nathaniel Dunnican, secretary of Veteran Services, said he plans to work with Career Services to find jobs for veterans.

The two motions that were passed included agreeing to a list of people to sit on the Academic Honesty Hearing board and appointing the 50 new senators to their respective committees.

SGA meetings are held every Monday at 7 p.m.

Catherine Ferris can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Ca_Ferris2.