On Wednesday, October 28, 2020 at 9:15 p.m., the Illinois Tech Student Government Association (SGA) held their weekly Senate meeting. SGA Executive Vice President Derek Rhea led the session. To view the recorded Facebook livestream of the meeting, please go to https://bit.ly/35UqlHI.
Finance Board Chair Eligibility Amendment
The first item on the agenda for the night was an amendment proposal to the eligibility requirements for students interested in running for the position of SGA Finance Board Chair. This proposal was made and presented by the current Finance Board Chair, Anwesha Roy. Currently, the requirements for Finance Board Chair eligibility are that students remain at Illinois Tech for at least one academic year following their election, and must have satisfactory academic standing with the university.
The amendment states that students eligible for Finance Board Chair shall have held a position within the Finance Board for at least two consecutive semesters prior to their effective term. Roy stated that the job of the Finance Board Chair is to preside over hearings, and this job is best done when a student has enough experience with SGA and Finance Board, so that meetings and hearings can be run smoothly and rules are followed with maximum adherence. The Finance Board also holds special hearings where student orgs submit budgets but there is no hearing in the near future and the money is funded to them immediately. Situations like these also require expert understanding of the policies and procedures for Finance Board. Roy said that this amendment would help illustrate the importance of experience in SGA, and would ultimately make it easier on the Finance Board Chair to have a solid understanding of the rules. The Finance Board had previously voted in favor of adding the amendment prior to the senate meeting.
The Senate expressed concern with this amendment. Prior to the term of Joshua Bowden, who was the Finance Board Chair before Roy, the Finance Board had experienced many issues and controversies with internal discrimination, corruption, and bias towards/against orgs and students. Bowden, who had no experience before becoming the Chair, helped improve the Finance Board by enforcing new rules and efficient management of the Board.
The then and current Vice Chair of the Finance Board, Chloe Rubinowicz, took up a lot of responsibility and helped Bowden with following and getting familiar with all the rules and guidelines during the beginning of Bowden’s term. There had also been communication issues during the early weeks of Bowden’s term. Roy said that the Finance Board Chair is preferred to have the knowledge required to run the hearings without much help.
It was also brought up that incoming Finance Board members often go through an interview process before joining Finance Board. The interview process is already there to ensure the eligibility of the student applying for Chair. Limiting the eligibility could possibly cause bias and/or selectivity for future candidates.
Some senators argued that ultimately, SGA is a democracy, and so it should be up to the student body to decide and vote for whoever they see is fit for running the Finance Board, regardless of experience. However, others argued that since the Finance Board Chair’s job is to implement the rules as closely as possible, and so experience is ultimately the best teacher for this.
The Finance Board Chair Eligibility Amendment was ultimately not passed with six votes in support, 10 votes against, and one abstain.
Archivist Nomination: Isaiah Mays
Next on the agenda was the appointment of Senator Isaiah Mays to the SGA Archivist position. Mays is a first-year student who has plans to improve the communication between SGA branches and improve the transparency between the student body and SGA. Mays is also going to be collaborating with SGA Executive Assistant Joel Kelsey to help document meetings for the SGA website. Mays was approved by the Senate for the Archivist position unanimously with 15 yes votes and two abstains.
SGA Chief Justice Shawna Jumper talked about a Finance Board appeal form on Presence. Currently there is no form on Presence for student orgs to appeal for a Finance Board budget, but there will be soon. In the meantime, any student org that needs an appeal is asked to email Jumper at [email protected].
Vice President of Communications Jason Scott spoke about the recent survey form regarding grading policy, mental health, and the Illinois Tech experience that had been going around for the past few days. As of the meeting, the form has received roughly 350 responses, which is roughly nine percent of the undergraduate student body. SGA aims to have as many responses as possible to ensure that changes can be made and be brought to the attention of Illinois Tech leadership. You can access the form here: https://forms.gle/A6fBbsfehgZtux3A8?. In addition to the form, SGA Communications is working on its content production and is also looking to have a future collaboration event with certain student orgs.
Vice President of Student Life Jeannina Villalobos mentioned that the Student Life Committee is working on a project called the IIT Mentoring Program which will be piloted in the spring 2021 semester. The IIT Mentoring Program will allow for students to simply go to a page on the Illinois Tech website and find somebody that has similar interests and majors as them, kind of like a dating app. They can then reach out to that upperclassmen and let that student know they’re interested in being mentored for their first year. An interest form for this can be found here: https://bit.ly/3jJ5ufn. Additionally, Student Life is also working on a project to restore the UFarm, and is meeting with faculty to discuss the possibility of bringing the garden back to life. Finally, Villalobos is planning to have a meeting with the Student Health and Wellness Center on Wednesday, November 4, from 12:45 – 1:45 p.m.
SGA Executive President Alex Kern reported that Illinois Tech faculty were upset about the SGA’s proposed plan for the Spring Break of 2021. Kern is talking with Professor Nick Menhart to try to clear this up. He also talked about an Illinois Tech trustee, Judson Althoff who is an Illinois Tech alumnus and the Executive Vice President of Microsoft. Althoff is interested in hearing about student problems at Illinois Tech, and Kern is going to be reporting student feedback to him.