New SGA senate holds first committee meetings, lays out new and ongoing projects

Date: 
Fri, 2017/10/06
By: 
Ethan Castro

On the night of Wednesday, October 4, the Illinois Tech Student Government Association (SGA) held its first round of committee meetings with the newly elected 2017-2018 student senate in the MTCC colored rooms. SGA meets every Wednesday night, alternating between regular senate hearings and these more specific committee meetings. This meeting began with SGA President Morgan Peters introducing the new senators to the structure and purpose of committee meetings as an outlet that “allows direct, specialized campus work.” Senators were told that they were free to choose one of the four SGA committees: Academic Affairs, Communications, Events, and Student Life. From these committees, senators would work with the elected vice president of that committee to initiate and carry out projects to directly impact the state of campus life.

Before the student senate was released to join and start working with the committee of their choice, Vice President of Academic Affairs Golzar Shobeiri reintroduced a proposal that she was planning on presenting to the Undergraduate Studies Committee (UGSC) regarding graduating with honors from Illinois Tech. As is, graduating from Illinois Tech with honors requires a minimum of 60 graded credit hours completed at the university. Under Shobeiri’s proposed system, this requirement would not change; by her rationale, “this number is a perfect amount for both transfer and incoming freshmen to have a fair chance to get honors with graduating.” Instead, Shobeiri is looking to change the GPA requirements for each of the three honors designations. Under her proposal, graduating cum laude (the lowest designation) would require a cumulative GPA between 3.5-3.699 (as opposed to the current 3.5-3.799 requirement). Graduating magna cum laude (the middle designation) would require a cumulative GPA between 3.7-3.849 (as opposed to the current 3.8-3.899). Finally, graduating with the highest honors distinction of summa cum laude would require a cumulative GPA of 3.85-4.0 (instead of the current 3.9-4.0) In Shobeiri’s proposal, she rationalizes the changes as being ones that “will allow students who started their Illinois Tech career in the wrong major and did not do so good a chance to earn the highest honors. Also, increasing the range will allow students who had an unfortunate event happen to them (sickness, personal, family emergency) a chance to work up from that semester. This will not change the number of students earning honors; it would just be the title that would change.” With a vote of 21 yeses and 1 abstention, the Illinois Tech SGA senate showed its numeric support for the honors proposal, which Shobeiri would go on to present it to the university’s UGSC on Tuesday, October 10.

After this short discussion and voting, the leaders of every SGA committee introduced themselves and what their committees do. Senators were given a choice over what committee they wished to work with and what projects they would undertake. The period after this initial gathering saw the committees break off into individual rooms to discuss potential projects for the upcoming year.

The Academic Affairs Committee, led by the previously mentioned Vice President of Academic Affairs, Golzar Shobeiri, mainly concerns itself with university policies and resources that are directly related to classes and interactions with academic professors. The previously mentioned proposal to update the university’s requirements for graduating with honors is just one such project that falls under this committee’s jurisdiction. Shobeiri discussed a number of other projects that she would like to see her senators bring to fruition, including increasing the robustness of course and professor evaluations, introducing teaching assistant (TA) evaluations, and continuing to source dissatisfaction over courses and curricula from the student body.

Under Vice President of Communications Nathan Jones, SGA’s Communications Committee is focused on decreasing the gap between the efforts of SGA and the perceptions of the student body. Although the efforts of this committee occur more in the “background,” as Jones himself describes, it is nonetheless still vital to the functioning of SGA. All of the projects that SGA’s committees complete are for naught if the student body knows nothing about them. Thus, his committee and its new senators look towards continuing to run SGA’s social media accounts, maintaining its website (sga.iit.edu), facilitating community outreach both inside and outside the student population, launching of a YouTube channel to create short promotional videos, and finalizing the ever-promised student liaison project to create a “wiki” for student organizations to find all of the information they need to operate effectively.

Events Chair Adeena Ahmed and the rest of the Events Committee run SGA’s recurring events, from their initial conception to their final marketing and facilitation. Ahmed likened her committee's work to planning parties, only these parties involve the entire student body (and sometimes campus departments). Examples of upcoming SGA events from Ahmed and her committee include a Town Hall forum with Public Safety (scheduled for Tuesday, October 17 from 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. in the MTCC Ballroom), another Town Hall forum with the SGA executive board (scheduled for Thursday, October 26 from 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. in the MTCC Ballroom), the once-a-semester President and Provost Forum (set for Friday, October 27 from 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. in the Hermann Hall Ballroom), and a 1980s-themed social event tentatively set for November.

Finally, the Student Life Committee, led by Vice President of Student Life Trixie Weiner, focuses on projects that help improve the quality of life on campus by being “extremely interactive” and “contacting and meeting with administrators and faculty.” Under her committee, a number of advisory boards operate, linking SGA to other campus offices through regular open meetings. Examples of these advisory boards include the Food Advisory Board (with Illinois Tech Dining Services), the Student Health and Wellness Advisory Board (with the Student Health and Wellness Center), and the Technology Advisory Board (with the Office of Technology Services). Each of these boards are led by a senator of the Student Life Committee and hold regular meetings with the appropriate department for the purposes of relaying student feedback and suggestions on how to better serve the student body. The many projects that the Student Life Committee is planning on tackling this year include providing feminine products in campus housing, elevating the equality of VanderCook students, better maintaining the equipment in Keating Sports Center, and increasing the nighttime lighting on campus.

Time will tell how successful this new generation of SGA senators and their vice presidents will be in carrying out this long list of projects. They have the full faith and support of their executive board, and TechNews will be present at every step of the process to document their progress.