On Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at 9:15 p.m. in Stuart Building room 113, the Student Government Association (SGA) hosted its seventh senate hearing of the spring semester. At the hearing, the senate heard two proposed amendments, one for VanderCook students’ voting rights in SGA executive elections, which received support and little criticism; and one for senate voting records, which sparked much debate; as well as heard executive reports from each of the executive board members.
The first item on the agenda at the senate hearing was the proposed amendment for VanderCook voting, presented by President Eric Scott. This amendment, written by Senator Estlin Mendez, removes references to Shimer College in the Executive Election Code, Article IX, Section 1, as well as changes “VanderCook School of Music” to “VanderCook College of Music.” The main point of the amendment, however, is that it expands VanderCook students’ ability to vote to every position on the SGA executive board, with the exception of the vice president of academic affairs, as the academic affairs of VanderCook students differ greatly from those of Illinois Tech students. Prior to the amendment, the only position VanderCook students were able to vote for in the Executive Elections was finance board chair. This amendment passed with 19 votes for and one abstaining vote.
After the VanderCook Voting Amendment was discussed, the senate discussed the Voting Records Amendment, presented and written by Senator Derek Rhea. This amendment requires voting records for each senator be made public following the adjournment of each senate hearing. This includes all events and approvals voted upon during each senate hearing. Rhea explained that it is important that the students of Illinois Tech know how their senators are voting and that they are being representative of the student body’s needs. The SGA’s communications committee is responsible for the upkeep of these records.
During debate of this amendment, several concerns were brought up by senators, Finance Board members, and students. These include an overall invasion of privacy of senators, as well as the fact that senators being voted in will be able to see which existing senators voted against them. This may create some animosity within senate. Additionally, senators expressed worry that students would be hostile towards senators who voted against their views.
Those who supported the amendment commented that this procedure is similar to that which the United States government currently follows — and these records aid some people in voting for their senators and representatives. Additionally, senators admitted that they should be able to give reasoning and stand up for the way that they vote in senate. Ultimately, senators’ peers choose the senators to represent and vote for them on topics upon which they cannot.
A friendly amendment was added to the Voting Records Amendment so that special cases can be brought up by a senator and considered by the president. Although a motion to table the amendment to discuss and alter it further was made, it did not pass by a roll call vote. The Voting Records Amendment passed with 14 votes for, six votes against.
Executive Assistant Katja Berthold began executive reports by presenting in place of Events Chair Henry White. Upcoming events include the Student Health and Wellness Center Town Hall on April 2 from 12:45 to 1:45 p.m., which will allow students to ask questions of staff members of the Student Health and Wellness Center, and learn more about its operations. Additionally, the SGA End of Year Awards will be held on campus on April 26, with a time to be determined.
Next, Finance Board Chair Jorge Morin announced that Finance Board advising will be taking place the week of April 1-5. Additionally, the next Finance Board hearing is on April 13 at 9 a.m., and will allocate the Student Activity Fund (SAF) for the fall 2019 semester. If you or someone you know is interested in joining Finance Board, you can email the Finance Board chair at [email protected]
In place of Chief Justice Erin Monforti, an associate justice presented the Judicial Board executive report. He commented that there was going to be a hearing regarding the previous amendments passed in senate, but the Judicial Board will not be holding it because the senate was within its right to vote them and they cannot be changed because some people personally disagree with them.
Vice President of Communications Narkis Garcia presented next, announcing that the SGA spotlight will be rolling out next week. Additionally, the committee is considering rebooting the Technological Advisory Committee within the Communications committee, which works along with the Office of Technology Services (OTS) to address technological problems on campus.
Following Garcia, Vice President of Academic Affairs Erin Nelson presented her executive report. Executive Assistant Katja Berthold added that some academic departments are unsure about the interprofessional project (IPRO) courses, so if anyone is interested in taking these, they should discuss it with their professors and encourage them to support it. Additionally, if anyone would be interested in participating in alumni-funded IPRO’s, they should speak with either Berthold or Nelson.
Finally, SGA President Eric Scott mentioned that the Governmental Affairs committee is discussing adding senate leadership positions to the SGA bylaws, such as a parliamentarian, speaker, and historian, who may create a student archival project. The goal of this project is to create a central archive of SGA’s project materials and accomplishments for all to view. Additionally, Scott asserted that there will be Finance Board reform. He would like to discuss oversight and application of Finance Board's guidelines, and how these relate to SGA’s governing documents. Additionally, he would like the Finance Board to give updates to student organizations on campus about their budget changes.
After Scott's executive report, SGA Executive Election Committee Chair Jorge Morin announced that candidate packets, which include information about each of the candidates for the various positions, will be released soon. Voting will be open April 4 - 10. The results will be announced April 10, and the new executive board will be sworn in on April 24.
During open floor, Nelson gave a statement from the Executive Board regarding the SAF discussion that has been occurring in senate. In summary, she stated there exists a surplus of SAF funds, and that although the Finance Board does follow the current guidelines set forth for them, it is not certain whether these guidelines have Illinois Tech students’ best interests in mind.
Countering this, Morin, who also serves as Finance Board chair, gave a speech in which he announced that over a million dollars of SAF funds have been spent, and student organizations have requested in total over 2 million dollars. He questioned whether this surplus truly exists, and defended the operations of Finance Board.
The meeting minutes can be found online on the SGA Facebook page, and anyone with questions or comments regarding SGA can direct them to [email protected]