SGA Senate discusses Student Health and Wellness Center Advisory Board, VanderCook senator position, more at latest hearing

Date: 
Tue, 2017/02/28

The Student Government Association (SGA) Senate meets biweekly on Wednesdays to vote on prospective student organizations, give updates on the projects of executive board members and senators, and hear out any questions or concerns during an “open floor” section, where anyone, SGA member or not, is welcomed to speak. The senate held their most recent meeting on Wednesday, February 22.

First on the schedule were student organization presentations, and while two organizations were expected to present, as is the norm, only one actually did so. The student representative for cricket club was decidedly absent, which was apparently the second time this group has failed to show up at the proper time. The other organization to present that day was the eSports group, represented by Elvin Moy and Stephen Grzenia. The purpose of this organization was to form a consolidated version of the Super Smash Bros and League of Legends organizations that already exist, (the latter being unofficial yet active) in order to encompass all competitive video gaming interests in one group. In addition to Super Smash Bros and League of Legends, eSports plans on expanding into other games, such as Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO). According to Moy, the organization’s ultimate goal is to provide opportunities and resources for those interested in eSports, and organize things like viewing parties and tournaments. The group is already planning on hosting an event for Union Board’s “Late nIITe,” occurring on March 4. Moy mentioned that the group already had organized leadership, with a committee formed for each game and a central board with leaders from each committee. The budget for eSports would be quite large, as each local area network (LAN) tournament would cost approximately $1,000 to $3,000, each console tournament would cost approximately $250, and food would also be an expense. This organization was passed, with no senators voting no, and two abstentions.

Next, Dean Katherine Stetz reported on the Board of Trustees meeting that had occurred on February 16. One big change she wished to announce regarded housing requirements for the incoming class of 2020. While it will not affect current students, incoming freshman will now be required to live in the dorms for two years, increasing from the previous one year requirement. Along with this announcement, Dean Stetz mentioned that she recognized housing needed to be improved, and while nothing is set in stone yet, the university is looking into the privatization of housing, as many universities have done. She expressed a hope to have new housing in the near future, along with improved food service. Currently, she is working with the Food Advisory Board (FAB) to achieve this; Sodexo is currently forming a strategic plan to improve service in general, which includes things like renovating The Commons and redesigning Center Court and Global Grounds. According to her, Sodexo’s contract will end in 2018, and after then, the university will open it up and start looking at other food vendors. On a similar note, the residence halls will soon be receiving a cable upgrade, switching from DirecTV to Xfinity. In addition, Dean Stetz reported that Office of Technology Services (OTS) is working on improving the wireless connection in residence halls. Finally, she wished to let the senate know that she recognized the unsettlement caused by President Donald Trump and his executive orders, and was more than willing to talk to students regarding any questions or concerns. Dean Stetz explained that she and fellow administration were working to improve communication in general concerning this issue, through things such as the One Stop website, which includes information and resources, legal support though Chicago-Kent alumni volunteers, and support through the Aetna student health insurance crisis-line, which can be reached at 1-887-351-7889.

SGA President Hamze “Leo” Sukkar reported next, mentioning first that nominations were now open for SGA executive board positions for the upcoming elections. Nominations will stop on March 12 at midnight, and can be completed at http://tinyurl.com/iitsgaexec. Additionally, Sukkar explained what he had brought up during his presentation for the Board of Trustees, a list which included many different student concerns, including but not limited to safety on campus, smoking regulations, crosswalk safety, graduation fees, and the annual increase in tuition. He had concluded his presentation by suggesting to the board an idea he called “campus climate,” a team who would study how students interact with faculty and staff, and react to their findings.

The Vice President of Academic Affairs, Akash Raina, also reported on the Board of Trustees meeting. Raina explained that he had spoken about making student work more visible, revisiting grading criteria, tackling apathy towards coursework, refining academic advising, and “homogenizing subcultures” such as improving interactions between freshman and seniors.

Qianran He, the Vice President of Student Life, updated the senate on the “SGA on the Bridge” event that had occurred on Tuesday, February 14. She explained that SGA members sat with big white boards, where students could write complaints or general ideas, such as adding a public safety section to the HAWKi app and extending breakfast hours in The Commons. He also reported on the ongoing project of creating a student space in Tech South; plans are made currently to have one room for quiet study and one room for group study. Many senators reacted positively to this idea, as it is very convenient for those who have class in the IIT Tower to have a place there to do homework and study.

Finance Board Chair Sung Min Choi Hong briefly announced that SGA’s finance board will be having their second hearing on March 4 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition, he explained that “very active recruitment” will begin for finance board, and that those who are interested in a position can contact fb@iit.edu.

Chief Justice San Dinh in turn announced recruiting for judicial board positions, and he encouraged applicants to contact sgajboard@iit.edu. Dinh said that applicants should read though the SGA constitution and bylaws, find a loophole, and send it in as the application.

For the Events Committee report, Gina Oberoi updated the senate about the success of the Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) Town Hall, which had occurred on February 21. Oberoi expressed delight that the event clearly increased transparency between students and administration, and that another town hall will definitely happen in the future.

Next, Executive Vice President Sonia Kamdar announced the 2nd SGA spotlight, which fell upon Senator Nathan Copper Jones, for “stepping up to work on and complete the website quickly on his own without direct instructions.” As a reminder, nominations for the SGA spotlight can be filled out at tinyurl.com/sgaspotlight.

Lastly was open floor, where any student was welcome to start a discussion on any subject they wished. Firstly, Senator Ethan Castro spoke about reviving a SHWC Advisory Board, which used to exist on-campus, but had since disbanded due to a lack of interest in students on the board. Castro explained that the idea to revive this board came from listening to many comments during the SHWC Town Hall that met a general overarching theme of a disconnect between student organizations and the SHWC itself. When Castro asked for ideas or concerns in order to get the ball rolling on this idea, he was met with many voices. One senator mentioned that the issue of apathy seemed to be a very prevalent issue with every single thing on campus, and that Communications Committee should look into doing something to try and figure that out first. Another senator thought that the disconnect between the student body and SHWC seemed to be primarily because of the location of the latter. Senator Olivia Kochanek explained that throughout her entire first semester, she had no idea how to get there. Another senator asked Castro how he would tackle the communication issue between particular student organizations and SHWC. Castro responded that, ideally, the board would have biweekly meetings where absolutely anyone would be welcome to attend and help shape the discussions. To conclude, Castro explained that he would rather not go about this project by himself, and he needed volunteers to join him on the board, SGA members or not. Interested parties are encouraged to contact ecastro3@hawk.iit.edu.

The next topic discussed during open floor was a potential VanderCook senator to be elected in the future. Senator Jones thought that although the organization was called IIT SGA, “they are a part of us,” and should have a senator to represent them. Apparently, Jones had heard that VanderCook students don’t have access to the WiFi in the residence halls, and Dean Stetz recognized the problem with VanderCook students not having access to HawkLink. In order to have a voice advocating for this group of students and making issues like these known, many senators supported the idea of a VanderCook senator.

Food Advisory Board (FAB) updated next, reporting that Sodexo has recently found a solution to the lack of halal meals during weekends, and students should see more options starting March 4. In addition, students should see more options in the salad bar in the near future. FAB’s next meeting will occur on March 3 at 3:15 p.m. in the Pritzker Club, and Senator David Arnold welcomed any students to email suggestions to darnold3@hawk.iit.edu. Some suggestions made in person where more options for people who don’t eat beef, catering more for Ramadan meals, additional lactose intolerant options, clearer labeling of ingredients, and more awareness and caution for those with nut allergies.

Next, Senator Golzar Shobeiri mentioned that the Career Services Advisory Board was still in need of nominations, which can be completed at https://goo.gl/forms/RgmZp7Ys7es4jXSt1.

Last, Senator Kislay Bhagat announced that the Idea Shop will be closing by Friday, March 3. He reminded students that if they have a project they planned to complete in the Idea Shop, they need to complete it before then. The Idea Shop will open again on March 27.

SGA Senate hearings occur on alternating Wednesdays, starting at 9:15 p.m. in Stuart 113, with the next senate hearing occurring on March 8.  All students are welcome to attend!