By Katie Ward
The Catholic University Student Government Association Senate convened for the sixth time of the academic year on Monday, February 5th, in the Pryzbyla Great Room. The twenty-one senators in attendance discussed preventative action for cancelled classes, the installation of new water fountains in residence halls, and an updated Senate constitution.
The first resolution of the meeting, sponsored by senior Matthew Skros, proposed that academic departments must warn students ten business days in advance of a possible class cancellation. Skros noted that students depend on a stable schedule to build other classes, jobs, and internships around. If they are notified that their class has been cancelled hours before the class was to meet, they are forced to rearrange their whole schedule and possibly miss spots in other class sections.
Several senators at the meeting mentioned their own experiences of classes being cancelled, including sophomore Elise LaFleur, who shared that she and other enrolled students showed up to their classroom on the first day of classes, only to find out that the class was cancelled later that week.
“There was nothing in writing, no email,” LaFleur said. “It just disappeared off of Cardinal Station on the second day the class was supposed to meet. I almost missed the deadline to return the eight books required for that theology class, which cost almost $200.”
Junior John Connolly amended the resolution to include the need for administration to email enrolled students to confirm that their class was definitely cancelled. Freshman Sean O’Grady also recommended the possibility that administration open another section of a cancelled course for students affected at the last minute.
Skros spoke with Dr. Lynn Mayer, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies, who said that there would likely be 90-95% compliance with the ten-day window among academic departments. The resolution was passed unanimously by the twenty-one voting senators.
The night’s second resolution regarded the implementation of new automatic water fountains into university residence halls. Sponsored by freshman Ally Kilgore, the addition or renovation of water fountains in dorm hallways would make residence life more attractive, lower the cost of campus living by allowing students to forego buying their own water filters, and reduce the spread of disease on campus. The new water fountains would be installed into residence halls “as deemed fit”— not in residence halls that are expected to be demolished in the next few years. The resolution was also passed with great support from all the senators in attendance.
The Student Government’s own constitution was also amended at the meeting, sponsored by the third Constitutional Commission composed of sophomores Weston Kirby and Cavan Hagerty, and Skros. Changes to the constitution included the creation of a third branch of the SGA for the Treasury Board, which previously served as part of the executive board, different checks of power over the budget of the executive board, and a higher GPA requirement for senators.
One new responsibility of the Treasury Board is to approve an extension of the executive board budget, which is voted upon and approved by the previous year’s Senate body; last year’s budget granted to the executive board was $33,000. This change was met with some resistance from senators who claimed that if the Senate is responsible for originally approving the budget, its approval should also be required for any further spending. This proposed amendment to the bill was voted down in a 10-10 decision, with the tie vote being cast by Senate presiding officer Jonathan Weiss. After discussing the GPA requirement for senators being raised from 2.25 to 2.5, the bill was passed unanimously.
Other announcements at the meeting included the resignation of School of Social Services senator Patricia Halloran, whose seat will be filled shortly by a student appointed by SGA President Brianna Howard. Vice President Weiss also provided updates on the status of Resolutions 005 and 006. The hours of the Eugene I. Kane Student Fitness Center were extended due to the passing of Resolution 005, and the trial period for earlier operating hours began this week. President Howard is also following up on the increased minimum wage proposed in Resolution 006.