The second to last senate hearing of each academic year always sees heightened turnout and a general feeling of both anticipation and sadness, as the hearing sees the announcement of the newly elected executive board for the following fall and also the very last reports from the current executive board. The last senate hearing of the year will see the swearing-in of the newly elected executive board; the details of the results of this election can be found in a separate article in this issue of TechNews.
First on the schedule for this hearing was the presentation of two potential student organizations for the senate, the first of which being the Saudi Student Association (SSA). The vision of this group of students was to create an organization that gave opportunities to learn more about Saudi culture; the students were passionate about the idea that knowledge of other cultures is essential for respect and peaceful coexistence. The purpose of the organization would be to initiate and participate in intercultural and multinational activities that promote understanding and appreciation between different cultural groups. Specifically, programming ideas included celebrations for National Day, Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr, Eid Al-Adha, a graduate student ceremony, and general body meetings. The group mentioned that they would like to collaborate with the Muslim Students Association (MSA) to put on many of these events, and had an estimated budget of approximately $4,500. The group expected to be funded in part by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM), in addition to potential funding from the Student Activity Fund (SAF) if approved as an official organization. This organization did pass the senate, with 12 votes for yes and six votes for no.
The second potential student organization to present for the senate was the HAM Radio and Research Club. The student presenter started off his presentation by explaining that amateur radio, or “HAM radio,” is a popular hobby as well as a profession where licensed amateur radio operators (or “HAMs”) operate communications equipment. Many HAMs use their skills to help areas affected by natural disaster to provide a method of communication when the power and cell phone towers go out. The purpose of a HAM Radio and Research Club on campus would be to help students on the path to becoming fully federally licensed HAM radio operators, teach them basic electronic and wireless skills, encourage experimentation, and work on radio-related research projects. The estimated budget was a staggering $10,000, which the speaker explained was due to the expensive equipment needed. During discussion, senators remarked that they liked how much passion they saw in the speaker and thought a unique organization like this could do good things for the campus. The organization passed the senate with 15 votes for yes, one vote for no, and two abstentions.
Following presentations by potential student organizations were the final executive board reports given by the current SGA executive board, as the newly elected individuals will be sworn in during the following hearing. President Morgan Peters started off her report by explaining that she had spent many hours interviewing candidates for the university's next provost and was generally excited about the future of the university. Secondly, she announced that the concept of a “speaker committee,” a committee to review and vote on potentially harmful speakers coming to campus as a safeguard against hate speech, was not passed in the Undergraduate Faculty Council (UFC) and is currently still being discussed in another round of conversations. Some members on the UFC, Peters explained, disagreed with a specific clause. More updates are sure to follow soon. Peters ended her report by saying how odd it felt to be nearly done with her responsibilities as SGA president, and how it had taken her nearly this long to figure out what it really means to be in this position. She thanked the senate for being passionate about student government and the university, and hoped this passion would continue.
Vice President of Communications Nathan Jones reported next, firstly explaining that there had been a disappointingly low turnout at the Student Organization Town Hall earlier that day. However, he believed the discussion had been very interesting and informative. Jones also announced that the Illinois Tech Student Wiki was now up and running at sga.iit.edu/w/. Anybody can edit the page if they make an account, Jones explained, and he encouraged those present to do so. Lastly, he reported that the next SGA commercial was in progress and would spotlight Finance Board as well as Judicial Board. Jones then took the time to reflect back on his time serving as vice president of communications, pretending to weep briefly before saying in all seriousness that it had been an honor. As he had initially run uncontested for the position, he noted humorously, “I kicked abstain’s a**.”
Vice President of Student Life Trixie Weiner started off her executive board report by announcing that Chartwells had been selected as the new dining provider on campus, as most students should have been aware of by then. Additionally, Weiner reported that the Wi-Fi modems around campus were currently in the process of being replaced, and students should see improvements soon. Improvements to the printer service were also underway to fix many small issues with the system. Additionally, Weiner announced that there were currently conversations going on about potentially decreasing the cost of curricular practical training (CPT) and experiential learning opportunities, which are akin to internships that students pay to take as a class. Weiner ended her report by saying that she had learned a lot as vice president of student life, and that the relationships developed with faculty and staff had been amazing.
Finance Board Chair Nina Tamras then stood to address the senate, simply urging everyone present to join Finance Board by emailing [email protected]. She also noted that she likely wouldn’t have attended senate hearings if she hadn’t been elected finance board chair, yet she had enjoyed attending them this past year, and was therefore glad to have been elected.
Judicial Board Chair Citlalli Bueno also bid the senate goodbye as their judicial board chair, saying that it had been a valuable learning experience, and congratulated the newly elected executive board.
Events Chair Mahmod Kahack announced that the SGA banquet will be taking place on April 19 in the MTCC Ballroom, and that senators should propose awards for others in SGA to express their appreciation.
The next part of the senate hearing, called “open floor,” was an opportunity for anyone to bring up a topic to discuss with the senate. Senator Thomas Spillman brought up that some students have been having issues with the Office of Campus Life (OCL) processing requests incorrectly, such as double booking a single room. Dean of Students Katherine Stetz explained that the office was currently going through the process of hiring new employees, who should be in place by the fall semester, and students should see improvements in the efficiency of the office by then.
The next and final senate hearing of the semester will occur on Wednesday, April 25, at 9:15pm in Stuart Building room 113. All students are welcome to attend the senate hearing, whether it be to observe the new executive board get sworn in, bring up topics to discuss, or get updated on the projects of some of the more involved student leaders on campus.