SGA Update

By Will DiGravio

The Jan. 21 meeting of the Student Government Association (SGA) began with an announcement from Larson Lovdal ’16.5 that $43,000 has been raised to construct the Ian Burgin ’08 Memorial Lodge, exceeding the project team’s goal by $23,000. Last year, the SGA committed $40,000 towards the project. Construction of the cabin, located on the Rikert Trail Network, will begin next fall.

SGA President Ilana Gratch ’16 reported that dining services will take over the operation of 10 o’clock Ross. It is Gratch’s hope that this transition will ultimately broaden the options available to students.

Gratch asked senators for feedback on the commons system to introduce at a meeting of the College Board of Overseers, for which she is a member. Senators agreed that attitudes towards  the commons system vary by individual experiences.

Speaker of the Senate Reshma Gogineni ’16 suggested that one way to improve the system would be to have each commons run more consistently in what they do and what kinds of activities they offer. Ross Senator Trisha Singh ’18 said that there should be more inter-commons traditions.

Next in the meeting, the SGA passed an election reform bill, authored by SGA Director of Membership Zak Fisher ’16, and sponsored by Gratch. The bill suggested the elimination of the current system of single-transferable-vote (STV) and instant-runoff  (IRV) voting, to be replaced by a winner-take-all system. According to Fisher, the old system presented logistical issues and confused the electorate. It is the belief of the SGA that a winner-take-all system will make elections more efficient and easier to grasp.

President Gratch began the Jan. 28 meeting by welcoming Rae Aaron ’19.5 and Sebastian Grandas ’19.5, the newly elected Feb senators, to the SGA. Gratch also announced that because no candidate ran to fill the vacant Wonnacott Commons senate seat, she is now responsible for appointing someone to the position.

SGA Treasurer Aaron de Toledo ’16 then presented a mid year update on the Finance Committee. As of Jan. 28, the Committee has received $1.38 million in requests and has granted $1.13 million. de Toledo said that the committee has $35,000 available to spend, however, allocating this money would not be ideal because it would cut into the organization’s reserve funds. Over the past year, the Committee has established a new policy dealing with the funding of sound systems, and is currently working on new policies regarding club sports and commons funding. At present, the Committee is preparing for spring budgeting.

After de Toledo’s presentation, senators engaged in a discussion about budget philosophy. Senators agreed that, in the future, the SGA should be wary in funding large capital projects, as they pose long term  risk. Community Council Co-Chair Tiff Chang ’17.5 said that the SGA should look to implement implicit bias training for the Finance Committee, and that there should be a greater effort to make sure that the Committee is more diverse.