The Illinois Tech Student Government Association (SGA) held its fourth senate hearing of the fall 2018 semester on Wednesday, October 24 at 9:15 p.m. in Stuart Building 113. All Illinois Tech students are invited to these biweekly meetings held with the purpose of approving or denying new student organizations, giving and receiving updates on projects and staff meetings from executive board members, and learning about the developments senators have made on their projects. Wednesday’s hearing heard three proposed student organizations' presentations from various corners of Illinois Tech: Dance Marathon, [email protected] (Machine Learning), and Coalition for Disabled and Neurodivergent Students.
Jasmine Baste and Zoey Krevitz began Wednesday’s hearing with a presentation about their proposed new student organization: Dance Marathon. This organization would be formed through the Miracle Network Dance Marathon for Lurie Children’s Hospital with the goal of bringing life to campus and getting people involved in a good cause. Participants would ask for donations from friends and family and raise money for Lurie Children’s Hospital based on how long they danced (for example: $50 per hour dancing). Dance Marathon’s advisor is Katherine Leight, and there are currently 33 documented interested members. Their projected first event would take place in Hermann Hall in the spring of 2019. During a round of questioning, the presenters revealed that they had already reached out to the Miracle Network Dance Marathon and maintained that Dance Marathon should be its own organization because then all of the organization’s efforts would go towards this event.
However, during the discussion period following Dance Marathon’s presentation, the main concern throughout the room was that the organization would not be able to garner year-round interest. Senators argued that this type of event could fit under the umbrella of many other organizations that already exist on campus, such as Love to Dance, Union Board, and MedLife. After voting, Dance Marathon failed to become a new organization with three votes yes, 19 votes no, and two abstaining members.
Rena Haswah was next to present for [email protected], a student organization presented with the purpose of promoting and growing the machine learning community at Illinois Tech. Its members aim to provide three pillars for the groups participants: education, experience, and networking. [email protected]’s chairperson is Sharath Gangalapadu, and they plan to invite guest lecturers to campus, develop a collaborative workspace, and collaborate with companies to hold events. Executive Board President Rena Haswah presented, but a few other executive board members also attended the meeting, and through their outreach they have already gathered 231 responses from students interested in joining. During questioning, the presenters revealed that alumni have already started reaching out to the organization to help out, and they’re interested in bringing in students from all over Illinois Tech (i.e. business students) instead of just the computational side of machine learning.
Following the presentation and questioning, discussion began between attending members, and for the most part people were in favor of the organization. A concern arose regarding the high amount of computer science organizations on campus, but President Eric Scott admitted that he “believes in free org competition.” [email protected] became a student organization with a unanimous yes vote.
Finally, Senator Estlin Mendez presented for the Coalition for Disabled and Neurodivergent Students, an organization created with the purpose of advocating and supporting disabled and neurodivergent students and educating people about their needs. Mendez, the current president of the organization, presented alongside Vice President Zoe Kirk and Treasurer Alexandra Detweiler about the fact that not all students know about the Center for Disabilities Resources. The group plans to implement various marketing strategies, including semesterly emails, social media posts, a possible website, and handouts to educate students about the needs disabled and neurodivergent students have and ways to support their fellow Illinois Tech students. During their questioning period, the presenters confirmed that this organization would help to create a support group on campus.
Only positive remarks were made during the discussion following the presentation, and attending members agreed that this organization benefits both the student body and the administration. No concerns were raised, and the Coalition for Disabled and Neurodivergent Students passed with 21 votes yes, one vote no, and one abstaining member.
President Eric Scott began the executive reports by announcing a University of Chicago Title IX Meeting taking place in November. Volunteers are invited to attend this event.
Executive Vice President Monica Bhagavan followed Scott, asking senators to give reports on their projects at the end of the hearing.
Next up, Vice President of Academic Affairs Erin Nelson admitted that in a strange coincidence, she had no meetings with faculty this week and thus no reports to give. She did, however, wish all senators luck in their classes.
Subsequently, Vice President of Student Life Lin Abu-Amara and Vice President of Communications Narkis Garcia encouraged attending members to read the executive report for updates from them.
Chief Justice Erin Monforti relayed information about three workshops Lisa Combs will be having that all students are encouraged to attend. They are entitled Debate, Discussion & Dialogue, Social Justice & Giving Grace, and Failure Resume.
Finance Board Chair Jorge Morin announced some new changes to finance board guidelines that can be found on the SGA website (https://sga.iit.edu). These changes are in regard possible conflicts of interest with student organization budgets, T-shirt funding, and food funding. The next advisory board meetings are October 29 and November 2, and the new hearing dates for next semester are February 16, March 16, and April 13.
Finally, Events Chair Henry White recapped that the President Provost Forum on October 24 was a success, and that next Wednesday, October 31, senators will be wearing costumes at the committee meeting as it is Halloween. Additionally, a midterm election viewing party will take place on November 6 to provide students with a chill atmosphere for working on homework with different channels broadcasting coverage.
After the Executive Board reports, senators gave a couple reports about their projects. Mert Armagan encouraged senators to get the word out about early voting, and voting in general. Marcos Mercado held a discussion with Career Services about how first year students can get involved. Jamie Borden announced her idea for holding sporadic events for handing out hand warmers and other things in the winter whenever the fire alarm in MSV goes off in partnership with Residence Hall Association (RHA).
The meeting minutes can be found online on the Illinois Tech Student Community (ITSC) Facebook page, and anyone with questions or comments regarding SGA can direct them to [email protected]