On November 2, 2022, Illinois Tech’s Student Government Association (SGA) had its ninth Senate meeting of the semester. The Senate meetings occur Wednesdays at 7:15 p.m. in Stuart 111.
Organization Proposal: [email protected]
The first order of business was a re-proposed organization presented by Colin Philips and Veronica Fischer. Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) would create an environment to discuss and learn about themed entertainment through events, meetings, and networking. Guest speakers would allow for networking and learning opportunities for the students. Ranging across disciplines, [email protected] would be targeted for all disciplines, in contrast to many other organizations that are targeted at specific majors. A goal of [email protected] is to work with members to participate in competitions, as many competitions are only offered to TEA members. [email protected] also aims to give back to the community, such as bringing back the haunted house in the basement of McCormick Student Village, helping 33rd Street Productions build their sets, and even escape rooms. [email protected] would meet weekly or bi-weekly with lectures, design projects, and guest speakers. [email protected] also hopes to take its members to attractions and exhibitions created for themed entertainment.
Justice Nabeeha Syeda asked how many members Philps and Fischer expect to attend meetings and how they intend to market their club to others. Fischer and Philips reminded us that they already have 18 interested members, plan to network with professors, and have experience recruiting members into organizations.
Justice Syeda followed up with a question about the budget, including the budget for business cards and the software needed. Fischer iterated that business cards are still super relevant and that many pieces of software have student discounts.
When we moved into discussion, Senator Kris Shiflet wondered if [email protected] had sent a new budget, and Vice President (VP) Joel Kelsey said no and that the budget is the same as last time.
VP of Communications Elio Armas-Rojo said that this organization would be good for Illinois Tech after this more thorough presentation.
VP of Student Life Nova Ammerman reminded members that there are architecture organizations that offer similar opportunities, as well as classes that offer the same type of content. In addition, he expressed concern about the budget of [email protected], especially using SAF funding to go on trips.
Justice Syeda rebutted VP Ammerman by stating that clubs are more accessible than classes and asked about what architecture clubs do that [email protected] would also do.
VP Armas-Rojo explained that certain architecture organizations do provide networking opportunities sometimes.
VP Ammerman doubled down on his stance.
Erik Olijnyk pointed out that he believes [email protected] would bring something unique to the campus, especially if they focused on the event planning campus.
Senator Shiflet stated that they believe SGA should recommend that [email protected] remove excursions from their budget and focus on the other aspects of their organization. They also agreed that clubs are more accessible than classes and that non-architecture students would likely not join or interact with architecture organizations.
VP Ammerman thinks the club is not necessarily needed as there are clubs and classes with similar content.
Justice Syeda stated that she agrees with Senator Shiflet and thinks that non-architecture students would be much less likely to join architecture clubs, and [email protected] would provide them the opportunity to get the same opportunities.
Olijnyk further agreed the club should be approved.
Senator Nomination: Tessa Parker
Tessa Parker is a first-year computer science student and the current Public Relations chair of the PRISM club at Illinois Tech. She wants to join SGA to make a difference on the Illinois Tech campus.
VP Ammerman asked his usual question; how will the other voting members be assured that Parker will come to future meetings? Parker stated that she keeps a calendar and follows it well.
Senator Alejandro Torres asked Parker to elaborate on the issues that she’s had so far. Parker discussed her poor experiences with Elevate but stated that it is mainly smaller things she wants to address.
VP Armas-Rojo asked what Parker thinks she can bring to the Senate. Parker stated that she wants to bring her unique viewpoint to the Senate.
When we moved to discussion, Justice Syeda asked who nominated Parker for the position, to which VP Armas-Rojo replied that he was the one to nominate her and iterated more specifically on what Parker would want to work on as a senator, including Public Safety, name changes at Illinois Tech, and general student life issues on campus including supporting the LGBTQ+ community on campus.
VP Ammerman stated that he believes Parker would make a great addition to the SGA Senate. He is especially hopeful about being more inclusive of LGBTQ+ people.
Senator Liliana (last name unknown) believes Parker would be a good member of SGA.
Another student, Dustin Thomas, stated concerns with Parker as a team player, saying they believe Parker is “her way or the highway” in their experiences with her.
VP Armas-Rojo countered that he has worked with Parker in a professional setting for a while and has had no issues working with her.
Olijnyk pointed out that having a diverse group of people and views is particularly useful for SGA.
VP Ammerman agreed with Olijnyk and stated that he is very passionate and sometimes struggles with compromise but still works well within SGA. He says that he would rather have folks who are zealous and passionate about SGA because they are more likely to speak up.
Senator Joseph Shamaon pointed out to VP Armas-Rojo says he believes that since Armas-Rojo and Parker were both working in PRISM on the same things, there would be less of a chance for tensions to rise.
Judicial Board Nominee: Saruina Iumozhapova
Justice Syeda introduced Iumozhapova to us as the top pick of the others on the Judicial Board before the nominee herself explained her qualifications. She used to be SGA and is also well-versed in the law and passionate about stopping injustice on campus. She said that she did not have as much an experience in Senate as she wished and thinks being on Judicial Board can help her make more change and impact. She also wants to revive her passion for public speaking.
President Mays asked Iumozhapova if she would be interested in the campus-wide Judicial Board that handles things such as Title IX cases.
Senator Shamaon asked Iumozhapova about specific injustices she’s seen on campus. She discussed budget disagreements and organizations denied the chance to start.
When we moved to the discussion, VP Ammerman brought up that Iumozhapova is in the leadership of a club currently facing the problems she discussed in response to Senator Shamaon’s question.
Justice Syeda explained in response that Iumozhapova could not be part of a hearing about a club she is a part of.
Senator Shiflet said they trusted Justice Syeda’s judgment and urged the others to vote yes on the nomination.
Associate Vice President Accountability Amendment
VP Ammerman presented on this, reminding everyone that last semester the Senate voted to pass an amendment to remove senators automatically after four meetings of unexcused absences or “radio silence,” and he says that it has been a useful tool to meet quorum.
However, it needed to be made clear whether or not the Associate Vice Presidents were included in this amendment. This new bill ensures that VPs are held to the same standards and responsibilities as Senators.
VP Kelsey pointed out that the Associate VPs include the VP of Student Life, VP of Communications, etc.
Senator Shiflet asked when this would be effective, and VP Ammerman said it would be implemented immediately after approval.
Senator Shamaon asked about what would happen if someone is removed from Senate. President Mays explained that he would be the one to nominate a new member.
When we moved into discussion, Senator Shiflet stated that they believe it is important to hold the Associate VPs to at least the same standards as senators, if not higher. They find it disrespectful for the Associate VPs to neglect their duties, and they find it silly for the rest of SGA to ignore them.
VP Armas-Rojo and VP Ammerman seconded this.
President Mays urged everyone to vote yes on the amendment, iterating that the engagement of Associate VPs is critical to the functioning of SGA, and we need them to attend regularly.
Justice Syeda asked if this would change the Constitution or Bylaws, and VP Ammerman explained that it would change both.
Chief Justice Syeda introduced a new petition form for all senators and organizations. The form can be used if you feel SGA denied you something unfairly or if there is a new rule or amendment in SGA that you have qualms with.
VP Armas-Rojo reminded us to respond to his email asking for our bios and photos. He also shared that SGA has open positions, including Finance Board advisors and other volunteer positions. Please join Finance Board! There are only four members, and they need 14!
Justice Syeda added that a volunteer could still become part of the Judicial Board, Finance Board, or Senate.
VP Ammerman shared that there will be a Food Advisory Board meeting soon and that there will be a restructuring deployed next semester. Most menu items are Halal! If it is not Haram (not Halal), then it is probably Halal. Ammerman urged students with dietary restrictions to reach out for help. There are lots of options, but they could be more visible. Ammerman also met with the Office of Campus Life (OCL) on November 1, where they discussed changes to Suitable. He also discussed the hanging of the Palestinian flag in Hermann Hall with Thy Nguyen from OCL. He also shared an interest in creating a committee on redesigning MyIIT.
There was also discussion about the Late-Night Breakfast during finals week, with a preliminary date of December 5, 2022.
VP Kelsey shared that there is now a unified SGA drive for SGA members to collaborate and communicate with each other, especially the committees.
President Mays shared about the Constitutional Convention from last Saturday, where we had compared our structure to other local university SGAs. The next Constitutional Convention will be on Saturday, November 5, 2022. Also, he invited senators to join the Undergraduate Studies Committee (UGSC) to help make decisions there. VP Armas-Rojo urged us to join as UGSC can make decisions about classes and curriculum.
Graham Davis from OCL shared that there will be a Global Alumni Gathering on November 5 with a live viewing party at 7 p.m. in the Bog, limited to the first 50 students. In addition, OCL has an event survey that they want students to fill out with events they want to see, when they want them, etc.
VP Ammerman urged everyone to fill out the dining survey emailed to all students! (He was very passionate about it, please fill it out.)
A student, AJ (last name unknown), brought to the floor that there has been racial profiling from Public Safety. He also brought up the “commonsbelacking” Instagram page. He brought up qualms about being unable to take out food from the Commons. He also said there is a safety hazard with uneven pavement on campus.
VP Ammerman stated that he invited AJ to the meeting and shared that there have been numerous reports against Public Safety and their treatment of students. He shared that there is a link on the Public Safety webpage to file an anonymous complaint if there are any problems. The report does not go to anyone on duty in Public Safety to mitigate a conflict of interest. Ammerman also shared that Chartwells is improving food quality in the Commons, ensuring food is cooked to the correct temperature. Ammerman also said that Facilities is aware of the issues with sidewalks and parking lots on campus and that they are slowly but surely working on the problem.
AJ also mentioned that there is relatively little engagement with events on campus and is worried since the events are often SAF funded. All in all, he praised SGA’s diligence and efforts in helping.
Senator Shiflet brought up their issues with a name change in the system, and Parker brought up her issues.
The proposal for [email protected] passed.
Parker’s nomination passed.
Iumozhapova’s nomination passed.
The Accountability Amendment passed.