At the first Student Government Association (SGA) meeting on Monday, Aug. 28, the group discussed many changes they hope to make this year. Proposals included a new project that would provide free menstrual products to students on campus and the unveiling of ongoing constitutional review efforts that intend to streamline a constitution that some senators worry needs repair.
SGA responded enthusiastically to a plan proposed by sophomore senator Simone Washington that would fund free feminine hygiene products for students in case of emergency situations. The project, which Washington called a joint effort between Facilities Services and SGA, would place three dispensers of tampons and pads around campus for the year for students to use.
No senator opposed the plan, though there was debate about certain details. Junior senator Travis Fulkerson wondered whether to fund the project for one semester or for one year, offering that a semester-long trial run could better maximize efficiency in case the project encounters any budget problems in its first semester. Director of student involvement Jamie Thompson inquired about potential hidden costs related to the installation of the receptacles and adjustments that may need to be made to the bathrooms containing receptacles.
Junior senator Manfred Wendt proposed that SGA should survey students to find where users would prefer to place the dispensers. The original idea, which still stands, is to place two in the Center for Sciences and Innovation “” one in the first floor’s gender-neutral bathroom and another in a women’s bathroom on the main floor “” and one in the library. No specific resolutions to these questions were reached at the meeting, but the overall consensus was one of agreement and eagerness to move forward.
Rather than having a member of SGA present a funding proposal to the rest of the senate, and thereby using funds collected from every student’s $150 student activity fee, SGA carried a motion to fund the project from its own internal budget.
Senior and former senator Lavanya Hospeti had introduced the idea to the senate, but president Nick Santulli inherited the project since Hospeti’s departure. According to Santulli, the response from students and other SGA members has been full of positivity.
Keeping in touch with the general student body is shaping up to be a primary focus for the SGA. Santulli is also working with senators Callie Struby, Amulya Deva and Juan Luevanos to revise the constitution.
“We didn’t think the way SGA was before reflected how SGA wanted to operate,” Deva said.
The stated goal of SGA’s Constitutional Review Committee is to clarify, close loopholes, streamline processes and otherwise bring the constitution up to the level deserved by the Trinity University community.
“I think people can see huge in improvements in transparency,” Struby said of the new constitutional addenda.
The committee itself was a response to a time of student backlash after a controversial SGA decision last semester.
“The committee was borne out of the situation in April with Greek Life,” Struby said.
Last year, SGA made the choice to reject Greek Council’s annual budget, a decision that was met with tempestuous student backlash and even petitions to reverse the decision and impeach certain senators. Struby said the unexpected burst of formerly unknown student opinion acted as a wakeup call to the SGA, spurring them to examine their own mechanisms and try to be more responsive, accountable and transparent.
The committee has proposed a preamble, protections for University Sponsored Organizations to better guarantee the fiscal ability to carry out their missions, and an extra judicial body whose job is to ensure SGA accountability. Luevanos and Santulli stressed that the current project is not in the final draft stage.
“The revisions are not perfect, but they will hopefully lay a foundation that future SGA members can build upon,” Luevanos said.
The Trinitonian will follow up on the proposed constitutional amendments and continue reporting on changes to SGA’s structure. Those with questions about SGA and their future plans for campus are welcome to email email@example.com or attend the weekly meetings at 5:30 p.m. in the Waxahachie Room in Coates University Center.