New SGA executive board sworn in, plans for summer discussed, more at latest senate hearing

Date: 
Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

On Wednesday, April 19, the Student Government Association (SGA) held their last senate hearing of the semester. At the start of the hearing, former SGA president Hamze “Leo” Sukkar swore in the newly elected executive board members: President Morgan Peters, Executive Vice President Alyssa DeLuca, Finance Board Chair Nina Tamras, Vice President of Academic Affairs Golzar Shobeiri, Vice President of Communications Nathan Cooper Jones, and Vice President of Student Life Beatrice “Trixie” Weiner. New Executive Board members were asked to place their left hand on a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order, raise their right, and repeat after Sukkar. After the new Executive Board was sworn in, Sukkar retreated to the audience, and Executive Vice President DeLuca ran the rest of the meeting.

Next, two potential student organizations presented for the senate. After their presentations, the senate would then vote on whether or not the groups would become official, granting them access to HawkLink, the ability to reserve rooms, and allocations from the Student Activity Fund (SAF).

The first student organization to present for the senate was the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). According to the student presenter, Claire Schauble, there had previously been a chapter of ASHRAE on campus, but it has since shut down due to lack of interest, and she wanted to start it up again with renewed energy. According to her, the Illinois Tech chapter of ASHRAE is recognized by the national organization itself, but not the school, which means that the group already has access to things like discounted manuals. ASHRAE would provide information and options to students who might not know what they want to do with their engineering degree, and it would also help students better understand the information covered in their heat and mass transfer classes. The group plans to hold AutoCAD workshops, invite guest speakers to speak about things like environmental engineering, provide free energy analysis to families in low income communities, and sponsor students to compete in competitions like the Integrated Sustainable Building Design Competition. Another competition they planned to participate in was the Race to Zero, which is a class that is currently in session, but lacks enough funding to send students to compete. When asked how she planned on carrying the group forward, Schauble responded that she planned on selecting a full executive board, if approved. Currently, she elaborated, there was a student interest of about 30 people that would be willing to join, both graduate and undergraduate. In the end, the student organization was passed, with 16 votes for yes, two for no, and two abstentions.

The second student organization to present was the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM), which was also a national organization. There were five student presenters, all of whom held positions on the Executive Board and were dressed very nicely. They explained that AWM would be a professional organization aimed at helping women have active careers in math as well as provide a greater understanding of the contributions from women in math. As far as programming goes, the national chapter of AWM provides student chapters with many opportunities, including bringing free speakers to campus. In addition, the group planned to collaborate and host events with other AWM chapters around Chicago, organize math-based activities or competitions, and help students explore math-based careers in industry. The students had already held a general body meeting to gauge student interest in an AWM chapter, and 20 students attended. Following the presentation, the senate expressed quite a few concerns about whether the group would be better-suited as a branch of a group that already exists, such as the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) or the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). In response, the group explained that these two organizations were very different from AWM, with SWE focused on engineering rather than mathematics and SAIM closely targeted towards graduate students, to the extent that undergraduate students have extreme difficulty benefiting from events. In addition, AWM’s president mentioned that SIAM is already focused on a specific section of mathematics, and there are many more topics that AWM would like to explore. One senator commented that it would make more sense for SIAM to be a subgroup of AWM, not the other way around. AWM passed the senate, with 12 votes for yes, six for no, and no abstentions.

President Peters then had her first president’s report for the senate, detailing her meetings with the provost and the president. Peters explained that one of the projects she would like to implement is the idea of “student advisors,” or students who volunteer to be the gateway between students and faculty in order to communicate efficiently any issues with the class. In addition, Peters wanted to have more student involvement with decisions made on campus as well as a better respect for other cultures and for women. When asked to explain her goals in a concise way, she responded, “unity, connection, respect, and representation.”

Next to report was Vice President of Academic Affairs Shobeiri, who said that the Office of Technology Services (OTS) is currently working on updating HawkI to include updates from Blackboard. Her summer “goals are” (because this sounds phonetically similar to Golzar, many senators found this joke amusing) to develop a way to show off student work or research, perhaps through the IIT portal.

Vice President of Communications Jones shared his summer plans, explaining that the SGA website was in for many renovations, including the addition of a wiki for students organizations to use. Other platforms of social media are on their way as well, such as a Snapchat and Instagram.

Weiner, the Vice President of student life, explained that the Office of Technology Services town hall has been rescheduled for Welcome Week this Fall. In addition, Comcast will soon be available to students through computers in the dorms, and hard drive replacements are being continually installed around campus. She also shared Dining Service’s two part plan with the senate; the first part includes the installation of a new cafe/bistro in place of the existing Pritzker Club, a coffee center to go where the Welcome Desk currently resides, and saying goodbye to Global Grounds. This plan will be happening regardless of whether or not Sodexo’s contract gets renewed or not. The second part of the plan is a renovation of The Commons, Talon’s, and Center Court. Weiner’s prospective summer agenda includes the creation of a facilities advisory board, placing SGA project timelines on the website, and the formation of the “Votebox” app for student feedback.

Finance Board Chair Tamras announced the Fall 2017 hearing dates, which are September 9, October 7, and November 18. She also introduced a potential Finance Board advisor, Jorge Morin, for the Senate to vote upon. Morin explained that he was an architectural engineering student, and the finance chair of the Society of Hispanic Engineers (SHE). When asked what he thought his role would be in Finance Board, Morin said that he would allocate SAF funds to student organizations, help make decisions, and make it as fair as possible. A senator then asked Morin why he was interested in joining Finance Board, to which he responded that he was interested in growing as an individual and becoming more involved on campus. Morin was approved as a new Finance Board advisor, with 17 votes for yes, none for no, and two abstentions.

San Dinh, the chair of the Judicial Board, then stood to discuss some potential amendments to the SGA bylaws. He explained that student Eric Scott and Senator Erin Nelson together had drafted a particular amendment that outlined the process of expanding senator voting bylaws to allow organizations to cast block votes. Due to the length of the senate hearing, however, Executive Vice President DeLuca suggested that this conversation be discussed at a special hearing on Wednesday, April 26, during the normal senate hearing time. This is unusual, due to the biweekly nature of senate hearings, however necessary due to the fact that this hearing was intended to be the last of the year. A long discussion followed this, debating the unconstitutionality of this action, however it was ultimately decided that senators would vote on whether to suspend SGA’s bylaws for a week in order to hold this special hearing. After a vote concluding in 15 votes for yes, 1 vote for no, and 3 abstentions, a special hearing was finalized for Wednesday, April 26, to discuss these potential new amendments. All students are welcome to attend the hearing and participate in discussion, and it will occur in Stuart Building room 113 beginning at 9:15 p.m.