SAC VP, Judicial Board justice elected, new senators sworn in, more at latest SGA senate hearing

Sat, 2017/09/23

On the evening of Wednesday, September 20, the Student Government Association (SGA) held their second senate hearing of the semester. During these hearings, officers and senators give reports on project progress or give other important announcements, potential student organizations present for the senate and their officiality is voted upon, and any student can bring up a concern to be discussed. Anyone is welcome at these hearings.

This hearing started off with some difficulties in attaining quorum, or the minimum number of senators necessary to make that hearing’s proceedings valid. In order to attain this amount, which is 50% of all senators, it became necessary to call current senators and ask for oral confirmation of their resignation.

First on the schedule at all SGA senate hearings are the presentations of potential student organizations. The first student organization to present for the senate this time was the Illinois Tech Oriental Dance and Culture (ODC) team. The student presenter explained that she had been running a dance team under the Chinese Student Scholar Association (CSSA-IIT) here at Illinois Tech for a few years, however she would like to expand the group to reach out to others, such as Japanese, Korean, and Indian students. Her estimated budget was $5000, which included the cost of bringing in guest lecturers and providing food at meetings. Other programming ideas for ODC included dance practices, language and culture mingle events, tea parties, and community outreach. Currently she reported having 46 active members in the group, consisting of 40 students and 6 alumni. When the presentation was finished, Finance Board Chair Nina Tamras clarified with the presenter that the Student Activity Fund (SAF) was to be used only for Illinois Tech students, not alumni or the community. The presenter indicated that she understood, explaining that only one event per week, held on Saturdays, would include alumni, and funding for this event would be obtained from other sources, such as the Illinois Tech Alumni Association. This organization was passed with 12 votes for yes, one vote for no, and one abstention.

The next potential student organization to present for the senate was the Illinois Tech Arquitectos (iitAQ). While the Illinois Tech chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students (iitAIAS) already exists on campus, iitAQ would provide resources geared specifically towards Latino architects, although all students would be welcome to join the organization. The organization planned to participate in various community outreach activities, such as visiting local elementary schools and teaching them about architecture through fun activities like LEGO building.  In addition, the organization helped out at the IIT LEGO City in the summer of 2017, where local children got to get together and help construct a LEGO replica of the city of Chicago. According to the student presenter, a chapter of iitAQ had existed in the past, however a lack of student involvement led to its disbanding. Currently, there were 10 students interested in the organization, with an executive board structure already set up. Some senators expressed a worry that with this few members, the organization would simply fizzle out again. Another concern that was voiced was whether this organization would be better suited under a currently existing organization on campus like iitAIAS or SHPE. The organization was not passed, with eight votes for no, four votes for yes, and two abstentions.

Next the senate voted upon the Student Athletic Committee (SAC) vice president, who would act as a voice advocating for student athletes within the senate. Three candidates were presented for the senate: Ashton Hess, a first-year on the lacrosse team, introduced herself first. With experience in competitive speech and debate as well as student government, she wished to represent student athletes as individuals as well as teams. She also expressed a wish to bring the student community together through athletics, using sporting events as a way to bring people together.

Evan Robeck, a second-year on the volleyball team, introduced himself next. He communicated that his main goal as SAC vice president would be to bridge the gap between SAC and SGA. Robeck also wished to use SGA as a platform to reach out to more people and create an environment where more of the student body can attend athletic events.

Jake Bruns, a third-year on the basketball team, was last to present. He wished that the general student population was more aware about what athletes have to do, all of the extra things that need to be done, and would use this position to communicate those tasks.

After questions and discussion, the senate voted, with Hess receiving the most votes and therefore being elected to the position of SAC vice president. There were nine votes for Hess, one vote for Robeck, one vote for Bruns, and two abstentions.

Next, the senate voted upon a potential addition of Shawna Jumper as justice to the Judicial Board. A second-year student majoring in chemical engineering, Jumper explained that because she was not involved in any other student organizations on campus, she could bring a truly unbiased opinion to the table. Although she has had no experience dealing with Finance Board in the past, she expressed an interest and willingness to learn. Jumper was elected as a justice with nine votes for yes, two votes for no, and two abstentions.

Next was the president’s report, where President Morgan Peters gives updates on the projects she is currently working on and communicates other important announcements. Firstly, she explained that as president of SGA, she’s given the privilege of sitting on the board that chooses who shall receive “honorary degrees” from the university and is looking for suggestions for candidates to bring forward. Secondly, she announced that the Alumni Association has brought forward the idea to make a portal where alumni can sign up to mentor current Illinois Tech Students, called the Alumni Mentorship Program. Peters then explained that if any student wanted to be a part of the Students Speak survey this year, meaning participating in meetings and helping to draft questions, they can get in touch with her and their help would be appreciated. She also announced the beginning of the Student Health and Wellness Center’s “Us, Them, and You” program, a series of drop-in group counseling hours for students. Next, Peters explained that efforts were currently being made to change “syllabus day” to be more constructive for students. Peters communicated a wish for it to be less of a five minute intro of a professor and more of a day where students can really get to know their professors, what research or projects they work on, how this class if going to impact their future, what other classes would be helpful to take if they enjoy this one, etc. Many senators seemed to react positively to this project. Lastly, she made an announcement that several colleges were still in need of senators, and interested students were encouraged to apply. Currently, the College of Science has three empty senatorial seats, the Stuart School of Business has one, and the School of Applied Technology has three.

The vice president of academic affairs, Golzar Shobeiri, reported for the senate next. She first updated those present in the ITP project, wherein senators each get assigned intro to the profession (ITP) classes within their college to present in front of in order to introduce new students to student government early on in their Illinois Tech careers. Shobeiri explained that she already had a script written up for senators and that assignments would be going out soon. Lastly, Shobeiri showed the senate a draft of possible new GPA requirements for honors, which she will be presenting at the Undergraduate Studies Committee (UGSC) meeting on Tuesday, September 26.

Vice President of Communications Nathan Jones spoke very briefly in front of the senate and encouraged all those present to check out the new SGA Instagram, which is now live. Also, there is apparently an SGA meme page now. Some in the audience, including the TechNews representative writing this article, were confused about what that is all about.

Vice President of Student Life Trixie Weiner spoke next, excitedly reporting that SGA now has its own section in the myIIT portal, to be found under the “student life” tab. Weiner also announced that the next Food Advisory Board (FAB) meeting was occurring the following day on Thursday, September 21, at 3:15pm in the Pritzker Club, and meetings would continue to occur every other week moving forward. Lastly, she acknowledged the extensive VanderCook access issues that students were currently experiencing, with things such as WiFi and HawkLink. Apparently, because VanderCook students did not have HawkLink logins, they were unable to vote in the most recent SGA senatorial elections.

Finance Board Chair Nina Tamras then gave a brief introduction and report. She announced that the next hearing will be a week long process and will occur on October 2 through October 6.

Chief Justice Citlalli Bueno also gave an extremely brief report, saying that interviews are currently being conducted for students applying to be justices, and three positions were currently available.

Lastly, the results of the SGA senatorial elections were announced and the new senators sworn in. Detailed results on this election can be found in this same section of TechNews.

While senate hearings are normally a biweekly occurrence, the next senate hearing will occur only a week after the previous one, on Wednesday, September 27. Hearings will continue to occur every other week in the future, beginning at 9:15 p.m. in Stuart building room 113. All students are welcome to attend SGA senate hearings.