SGA Senate Looks Ahead in Final Meeting of Academic Year

The Senate sits in during its final meeting of the academic year. Courtesy of Emma Flanagan Photography

By Abby Anderko

On Monday April 25th, the Student Government Association (SGA) Senate held its 10th and final meeting of the year. The meeting covered four new resolutions, spanning between a tabled resolution about student input on the new dining hall to replacing plastic bags with paper bags in the POD. The Senate also passed the new administration’s executive budget for the 2018-2019 academic year and approved the new Treasury Board nominees.

The first resolution of the night brought before the Senate was Resolution 014, which was tabled in an earlier meeting and pertains to student input on the new dining hall. On January 22nd, the university announced its plan to open a new dining hall on campus by the year 2020. With the dining hall in its preliminary stages, sophomore Alex Santana proposed that the Senate request that the university administration create “surveys, town halls, and any other practicable mechanisms for Catholic University students to properly express their opinions concerning this new addition to their campus and student experience.”

When it was originally proposed, the resolution was debated as potentially redundant and too specific. When it was proposed a second time, similar concerns were raised, but the resolution passed because many believed it would create another avenue for student feedback.

However, in its wording, the resolution was still believed to be undermining the duties of the Senate as the representative body of the students. In particular, Aaron Mackisey of the School of Music voiced his concerns about the wording.

“I think while the desire of the resolution is correct, I think this is something student government already does,” Mackisey said. He interpreted this as “just telling student government to do its job.”

Alexandra Kilgore of the class of 2021 replied by saying that the proposal is proof that it needs to be passed.

“We are lucky to attend a university that values student input, and so I think as representatives of the student body we should create visible mechanisms to ensure that input is consistent,” Kilgore said.

The second resolution of the night, Resolution 020, was proposed by newly-appointed Melissa Zentz of the School of Social Work. This resolution proposes that the Senate work with the Center for Academic Success (CAS) to add a monthly Greek and Latin subject lab. Subject labs are group tutoring sessions that can be held either weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly to assist students in subjects in which they may find difficulty.

Leigh Calotta of the School of Nursing supported this resolution as she is a tutor herself, but also proposed that rather than forcing the resolution onto the CAS, that SGA reach out to  specific departments and professors to collaborate on creating these programs. By having the backing of professionals, the resolution would be more practical and easier to implement. Zentz and co-sponsor Mackisey agreed, stating that the SGA and the Committee of Academic Affairs will assist the CAS in hiring tutors for the new programs.

The final two resolutions of the night involved changes to the dining experience. Resolution 021, proposed by Antoine Rask of the School of Theology, sought to change the bags that are being used in the Provisionals on Demand store (POD) from plastic to paper bags. The motion aims to make the university greener and help the environment as paper bags are biodegradable. This resolution passed.

The second, and most debated resolution, Resolution 022, was proposed by Jeremy Volz of the School of Philosophy. Volz took issue with the student dining experience in the Student Restaurant, specifically, the repetitiveness of the music played, the content on the televisions being innapropriate, and a need to turn down the fans for making some dining areas too cold and windy.

A lot of senators voiced concerns that this resolution was unprofessional and more fueled by personal preference. Raquel Garcia-Geary of the School of Social Services spoke out against the resolution’s personal nature.

“I think it’s a really unprofessional resolution, specifically talking about the music but also the television,” Garcia said. “I just think that there is a lot of opinion in that.”

Resolution 022 failed to pass, but Kilgore, a co-sponsor, vowed that she will bring the matters back up if she gets the chance to be a student senator next year.

To close out the meeting, all five of the senior senators were given the chance to speak to their colleagues, saying how much they enjoyed serving with them and how the SGA makes a difference in the Catholic University community. The meeting ended with the Senate committee heads awarding Vice President Jon Paul Weiss a Certificate of Excellence for all he has done in the past year for the Senate and the university in general.

The SGA Senate will resume its efforts next academic year under the leadership of Vice President-Elect Weston Kirby, with a new senate to be voted on in September.

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