SGA Update

By Ben Anderson

The Sept. 30 meeting of the Student Government Association (SGA) opened with a discussion led by President of the SGA Charlie Arnowitz ’13 on his proposed reformation of the SGA by-laws. Discussion and voting on the formation of a court and changes in the term lengths of junior senators was ultimately postponed until those aspects of the legislation can be more closely examined and fine-tuned. The discussion was short and the remainder of the bill passed unanimously.

Next, Arnowitz presented a piece of legislation that would reinstate an SGA Operating Account. This account is accessible by the sitting president and can be used for smaller purchases, such as office supplies, without the need to pass individual legislation for each purchase. Arnowitz’s proposal cut the account from the earlier precedent of $8,000 down to $2,000. The bill passed unanimously.

Arnowitz raised this legislation in part for the upcoming SGA summit. The summit is a meeting of student government presidents and senators for various NESCAC schools. Arnowitz hopes to attend this summit with two other senators and hopes to have this account active in time for the event.

During discussion, the question of the summit’s purpose was raised by a few of the senators. Arnowitz justified the summit as an educational opportunity.

“This is a great opportunity to share ideas with other schools and encourage discussion on how each school’s SGA addresses the various problems with which they are faced each year,” said Arnowitz.

Next, Kathryn Benson ’13 came before the SGA with legislation to continue the arts and crafts space in the McCullough Student Center. The new bill continues last year’s program and creates a manager position that will be in charge of regulating the center’s programming. The bill also reduced the budget for the program from $3,000 to $2,180. The bill passed with only one abstention.

The Oct. 7 meeting of the SGA opened with a presentation from the Dean of Library & Information Services (LIS) Michael Roy. Roy came before the SGA first to look for volunteers to serve on the Student LIS Advisory Committee, a committee which acts as liaison between LIS and the SGA.

Roy also raised the topic of the current state of Portal and the varying student opinions on the program.

Senator Anna Shireman-Grabowski  ’15.5 spoke of an issue raised by a few of her constituents.

“Many students have come to me asking about getting access to all-student emails,” said Shireman-Grabowski. “They believe that asking them to communicate through Portal is a threat to student autonomy.”

In response, Roy said that LIS has no jurisdiction over all-student emails.

One idea that has been raised by some staff in LIS to facilitate inter-campus communication is the creation of a platform through which students could post information about events. Students could then subscribe to certain updates, ensuring that information only got to the people who were most interested.

Next, Addie Cunniff ’13 led a discussion on legislation to create an SGA Director of Student Health & Wellness. Cunniff’s hope in creating this position is to fill a void of student health and wellness leaders around campus.

“There are a lot of good programs around campus addressing problems of stress and mental health,” said Cunniff. “There’s a lot of wiggle room to expand these programs, which will be a top priority for this director.”

Arnowitz, the sponsor of this bill, added, “The main goal for me in writing this legislation is to demonstrate institutional support for these initiatives without putting excessive stress on the SGA budget.”

The bill passed and Cunniff was nominated and elected to this newly created position.

An ad-hoc committee was proposed to review the applications to fill the First-Year Committee Senator position that Danny Zhang ’15 and Rana Abdelhamid ’15 created last year. Five senators volunteered to fill the positions.

Finally, three senators filled positions on the Parking Ticket Appeals Committee, a committee that works with Public Safety to review parking ticket appeals, and one senator filled a position on the Housing Committee, a committee formed to reduce the workload of the Community Council during the housing process.