Student Government Changes Constitution

The Student Government Association voted unanimously during its Oct. 26 meeting to amend the SGA Constitution.

The amendment, forwarded by sophomore class president Ellen McKinnie, helps clarify hour requirements and classifications. Specifically, the amendment states that individuals running for a senate seat during the spring semester shall not include currently enrolled hours.

This amendment came in response to issues voiced during the Oct. 12 meeting, when SGA voted to amend the constitution to specify hour requirements for individuals running for senate in an attempt to properly classify senators as freshmen, sophomores, and so on. However, this ranking system does not take into account individuals running in the spring to replace any senator who has stepped down.

If these individuals include their current spring hours, they could be improperly classified as a year above what they are. The second amendment seeks to solve this issue by not factoring spring hours in the calculation.

The motion passed unanimously without discussion, satisfying the two-thirds requirement for a constitutional amendment.

The diversity committee is looking for non-SGA members. Applications for the positions went out Monday, Oct. 28 and will close Thursday, Nov. 5, followed by interviews Thursday, Nov. 12.

Executive President Zach Carter met with executive university staff concerning SGA committee goals and outlined what committees want to accomplish this year. In response to these discussions, the university is hiring new shuttle drivers, specifically to meet late-night transportation needs from campus to Bear Village.

Executive Vice President Corey Parks discussed the President’s Residence Advisory Committee, which is attempting to put the traditional university president’s residence to good use. President Tom Courtway no longer resides in the house, which has been used since its vacancy as an event center. Parks said that the building will likely continue to serve this purpose, following the example of Arkansas Tech.

SGA discussed fee increases, gender-neutral restrooms and nontraditional students during its Oct. 19 meeting.

Career Services requested a small increase in the Student Activity Fee to help fund new tools for UCA graduates looking for a career. Carter said that SGA needs to write a resolution in support of or against the increase.

SGA must also consider whether to grant fee increases on a case-by-case basis or to answer requests for the year all at once. Carter said that SGA should “dig into that a little more and see when the best timeline is” for a fee increase.

Associate Vice President for Institutional Diversity Angela Webster-Smith spoke to SGA about addressing the needs of nontraditional and LGBTQ students at UCA. The Office of Diversity will release a campus climate survey late this fall or during the spring semester to gauge the needs of nontraditional students.

In addition, Webster-Smith said that a subcommittee of the Office of Diversity will revisit gender-neutral restrooms. Possible locations for new gender-neutral restrooms include the Student Center and Christian Cafeteria, as well as Farris Hall. These restrooms will be single-use and will likely have to be built, not converted from traditional public restrooms.

Parks said SGA will consider funding more lactation stations for nursing mothers on campus. Parks said that SGA was passionate about this project last semester and that plans are underway for a Lewis Science Center location.

The Campus Resources Committee plans to talk with UCAPD about fixing crosswalks around campus.

The committee is also pressing for new desks around campus to replace high school-style desks, which are inconvenient for larger and pregnant students.

SGA voted to allocate $1,765 to the Big Event fund. The Big Event, which was a committee of SGA until recently, does not fall under Student Activity Fee Allocation (SAFA) guidelines, so the money will come out of the SGA reserve. Because it doesn’t fall under SAFA guidelines, the money allocated doesn’t have the same restrictions as traditional RSOs.

Vice President of Finance Emma Baird said that funding the Big Event was justified because this is the first year it has not been directly overseen by SGA, and it needs help.

The vote, which needed a two-thirds majority, passed with 39 yes votes, zero nays and one abstention.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 27, 2015 print edition of The Echo.

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