Executive vice president resigns, new dining services contract discussed, more updates at latest SGA senate hearing

Fri, 2017/11/10

The Student Government Association (SGA) senate hearing held on the evening of Wednesday, November 8, began with an announcement by Executive Vice President Alyssa DeLuca that she will be resigning from her role due to her busy schedule. “I don’t have enough time to put into this,” she explained. Because one of the foremost responsibilities of the executive vice president is to oversee senate meetings, Events Chair Adeena Ahmed temporarily took up this responsibility in DeLuca’s new absence until a replacement can be voted in. More about this process is discussed during the president's report.

As in all senate hearings, the first order of business was presentations by potential student organizations. Only one organization was due to present at this meeting: Graduate Student Association (GSA) for Computer Science. The student representative for this organization was 5th year computer science graduate student Anthony Kougkas. The student explained that graduate students often feel isolated, spending a lot of their time alone in labs, with no social life and opportunities to participate in collaborative work. Because of this, Kougkas wanted to propose the creation of a GSA that could organize graduate students in this manner. The primary goals of this organization would be to create a platform through which students could voice their concerns to the department, build a graduate student lounge area, provide a support system for students, and help younger students receive guidance from junior and senior graduate students. Programming ideas included inviting speakers to address graduate students about computer science topics and career advice, social events to help students de-stress and have fun, collaboration activities between different research teams, and events to promote computer science graduate studies like, “Meet a Computer Science Graduate Student Today.” According to Kougkas, there are 83 graduate students in the computer science department, 23 of which have already “signed on” to the organization. Kougkas expressed his hesitancy to commit to a certain number, he estimated a budget to be about $5,000 per semester, which included expenses for food at meetings, inviting speakers, or possibly going to conferences or competitions. This group passed through the Senate as an official organization with 14 votes for yes, two for no, and one abstention.

Next were the executive board reports, beginning with the president’s report. President Morgan Peters began her update by explaining what the replacement process for the executive vice president would look like. Voting will occur at the last senate hearing of the calendar year, on November 29, with voting to be done by senators only (although nominations can be made by the entire student body). Those nominations can be filled out at goo.gl/forms/TCGZ5BXh3BKai4NX2. Peters then announced that she will be meeting with the Academic Director of the Kaplan Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, Anijo Mathew, and asked the students present what they would like to see in the building. Senator responses included more shop space with opportunities for concise training, a “round table” like space for idea sharing, more plants, and VanderCook access.

Peters then gave the floor to Dean Katherine Stetz, who gave an update on dining services on campus. With Sodexo’s 15 year contract up soon, food services proposals from many different companies are due this week. According to Stetz, companies Aramark, Chartwells, Bon Appetit, and of course Sodexo are all likely to make a bid. These contracts usually last a great many years, Stetz explained, so it’s a big decision. For example, Sodexo’s contract spanned 15 years because of the amount of invested money the organization put into the university, in ways like remodeling The Commons, and it took 15 years to “pay that back,” Stetz said.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Golzar Shobeiri then began her report for the senate, beginning with an announcement that the search for the new university provost was underway, with Dean Betts from the College of Science to act as interim provost until a replacement can be found. Shobeiri also announced a new committee called the Guidance and Visiting Speakers Committee, of which Shobeiri and Peters are both a part of, which will act as a platform for discussion about speakers that are coming to campus. Shobeiri explained that this group will in no way ban people from coming to campus, but merely host this discussion. Shobeiri also updated senators on midterm and TA evaluation projects, which she said were still in the works.

While the Vice President of Communications Nathan Jones was not present at this senate hearing, Peters read a report that he had prepared. Jones had written that a commercial he had overseen for SGA went “pretty poorly,” but Peters commented that she felt that it was actually quite cute. Jones had also written that social media is up and running on a regular basis, and that he is scheduled to meet with someone from the Office of Technology Services (OTS) soon to see the new Illinois Tech portal and banner, which will be up around spring break.

In her report, Vice President of Student Life Trixie Weiner explained that she had recently filled out a report of all puddles on campus when it rains, to be delivered to university administrators overseeing physical infrastructure. Additionally, VanderCook students who live in MSV now have WiFi access.

There was no update from Finance Board Chair Nina Tamras.

Chief Justice Citlalli Bueno reported that she will be meeting with Troy Talkington, the university's assistant director of community standards, to discuss how to better utilize Judicial Board for other cases, because most of the cases heard by Judicial Board are Finance Board and SGA appeals.

Events Chair Adeena Ahmed was the last executive board member to report, detailing some of next semester’s events. Firstly, there will be an SGA-hosted '80s party during Welcome Week of next semester to recruit incoming students. There will also be two town halls, featuring the International Center and OCL, as well as a President and Provost Forum. Finally, SGA will hold two “general body meetings,” a meeting held at a more accessible time than senate hearings wherein the student body can keep updated about SGA upcoming events and current projects.

All students are welcome to attend SGA Senate Hearings to listen and participate in discussion. They are an effective way for students to voice their concerns to those who can actively make change as well as stay updated on what projects these student leaders are currently working on. Hearings occur every other Wednesday (when school is in session) at 9:15 p.m. in Stuart Building room 113, and the next senate hearing will take place on Wednesday, November 29.