On Wednesday, November 11, 2020 at 9:15 p.m., the Illinois Tech Student Government Association (SGA) held their weekly senate meeting. SGA Executive Vice President Derek Rhea ran the meeting. To view the recorded livestream of the meeting on Facebook, visit https://bit.ly/3lufvyE.
Student organization proposal: Flight Club
The first item on the agenda for the night was a proposal for a new student org called the Flight Club, presented by Andy de Fonseca and Dr. Harry Smith. Flight Club’s focus is to use the pre-existing tools and research that Illinois Tech has at its disposal in order to help improve the community. The club also has a large focus on education and plans to create a tutor/mentorship program that connects Illinois Tech with various high schools located in South Side Chicago. The Flight Club was approved unanimously (15 votes in favor)
For executive reports, SGA Chief Justice Shawna Jumper spoke about having a potential Student Advisor position for SGA. The primary role of this position would be supporting students and orgs who are involved in Judicial Board hearings.
Next, Vice President of Events Martina Dimitrova announced that the SGA Events Committee is going to host their semesterly President-Provost Q&A Forum, which will be livestreamed on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 from 12:45 to 1:45 p.m. Students are asked to leave their burning questions they want answered by Illinois Tech President Alan Cramb and Provost Peter Kilpatrick in this Google Form: shorturl.at/bIO23.
Vice President of Communications Jason Scott discussed the recent updates on the Pass/Fail policy which he had been communicating with the upper Illinois Tech administration about. Last week, SGA was able to get a student "opt in Pass/Fail Policy" to be supported by the faculty and get approved by the administration. Although the departments and administration are finalizing its implementation, students who want to opt in to the Pass/Fail policy should fill out this form before November 24 at 5 p.m.: https://sforce.co/3eVOq4V. Note: When doing this policy all your courses for fall 2020 will be Pass/Fail and you will only be able to take 15 credit hours during your spring 2021 semester. Speak with your academic advisor for special cases to get this waived. Additionally, SGA is sending out two feedback forms for students: one for the Spring Break policy for 2021 (https://forms.gle/fN8TFpgXHBVzJ3kr7), and another feedback form for first-year and transfer students to report any positive or negative experiences with the school this year so that Illinois Tech can do better in the future.
For updates on Student Life, some of the senators on that committee spoke about recent developments in their projects. Senator Na’im Muhammad spoke about the ongoing Public Safety Awareness Week events that SGA has been organizing. Senator Mallory Drevline spoke about her and Senator Ursula Hersh’s current progress on the SGA initiative to get a Women’s Center on campus. The week prior, they met with Dean of Psychology Christine Himes to discuss possibilities for the project. Drevline is also involved in developing a Mentorship program for students. Currently she is in contact with the First Year Experience (FYE) program and the FYE mentors and is hoping to have a collaboration or a supplemental option with them. Hersh gave updates on the SGA initiative to restore the UFarm. Hersh and several other SGA members met with Professor Jeremy Alexis, who is the director of the IPRO program, to re-establish the UFarm as an IPRO, which will be offered in the spring 2021 semester under course number IPRO 497-222. A volunteer group is also being formed to visit the UFarm site and help clean up the debris in the area. (You can also check out the UFarm article in this issue for more info ;) hint hint). Lastly, Senator Sameer Sheikh announced that the Illinois Tech administration also gave approval to the Hawk House project, which will be a student-run dorm hoteling system for commuter students staying overnight on campus.
Coordinator of Campus Life Derrick Brown reported that Campus Life Administration is currently going through some changes with its members and structure to adjust to new leadership.
Proposed legislation: varying Constitutional amendments
Next came up a very lengthy and spirited discussion about three proposed changes to the SGA Constitution and Bylaws. They are as follows:
Section 1 – Preamble
(a) Consistency in the required vote of the Senate for confirmation as Chief Justice or as a member of the Judicial Board should be clearly established.
(b) Presently, Article III, & 1.1 of the SGA Constitution states that the Chief Justice requires a simple majority vote of the Senate for confirmation.
(c) Presently, Article III, & 1.2(6) and Article VI, & 5 of the SGA Constitution state that members of the Judicial Board require a two-thirds majority vote of the Senate for confirmation.
Section 2 – Amendment
(a) Article III, & 1.2(6) of the SGA Constitution is hereby amended to read as follows: “Appoint, in the case of a vacancy, members of the Judicial Board to be confirmed by a simple majority vote of the Senate.”
(b) Article VI, & 6 of the SGA Constitution is hereby amended by replacing the first sentence of Article VI, & 6 in its entirety with the following: “In the event of a vacancy, the President shall appoint a replacement, which shall be confirmed upon a simple majority vote of the Senate to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the outgoing Justice’s term.”
Section 3 – Immediate Effect Upon Adoption
This amendment, upon being adopted by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, shall become effective immediately upon adoption.
After strict interpretation, all of the amendments from the night's meeting failed to pass, with the first proposed amendment having 8 yes votes, 2 no votes, and 10 abstains, the second proposed amendment having 7 yes votes, 3 no votes, and 10 abstains, and the third proposed amendment having 5 yes votes, 6 no votes, and 9 abstains.
Senator Kevin Foley called attention to the fire alarms in Kacek Hall as there were two fire alarm incidents the week prior but students weren’t aware they were going off unless they were informed by their Residence Advisors (RAs), due to the low sound of the alarms. Senator and RA Na’im Muhammad replied that Kacek is built differently where fires are contained per floor, so not the entire building has to evacuate in case of a fire, unlike in MSV and other residence halls. Senator and RA Jason Scott also mentioned that the RAs are working on fixing the actual technical issues of the fire alarms not sounding properly.
Another (assumed) senator, whose name unfortunately could not be found in the Facebook livestream, spoke about the lack of communication and unannounced maintenance work sessions occurring in students’ dorms. Senator Na’im Muhammad replied that students should report issues with maintenance to their RAs.