BY EILEEN O’GRADY ’18
At SGA Senate on Tuesday April 18, senators voted to implement changes to the Ways and Means committee guidelines and Dean Marcella Hall addressed student concerns regarding a potential ethnic studies department as well as a controversial article written by a Mount Holyoke professor. Furthermore, there were SuperBlanch updates.
The meeting began with welcoming remarks by senate chair Camille Gladieux ’18, before the floor was opened to student concerns and announcements. To kick off the session, the vice president of SGA, Achaetey Kabal ’17, expressed concern that the wifi was down in the Blanchard Great Room at the beginning of the SGA meeting, which affected the senators’ ability to complete the weekly sign-in process. Next, there was a student complaint voiced by the SGA chair of halls, Emily Stewart ’19, about the fact that classes are not cancelled on Pangy Day, and that students who either have class or jobs on campus that day will not be able to attend Pangy Day events. Adding to this complaint, Kabal expressed concern that if dining halls are to be closed on Pangy Day, students who can’t participate in the festival activities will not have access to food.
SGA chair of committees Anna Zheng ’18 encouraged students to apply to be on the new Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, a group that will work with the administration on Mount Holyoke’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative to continue the conversation and work that was started at the BOOM Conference in March.
Next there was a presentation by the Ways and Means Committee, which includes current chair Val Montesino ’19, rising chair Anya Nandkeolyar ’19 and SGA treasurer Lan Ha ’17, in which they outlined some proposed changes to the Ways and Means guidelines for next year, before they brought to a vote by the full senate. Among the changes that will be made, Ways and Means will be increasing the amount of money for meals that is currently allotted to student orgs participating in off-campus learning experiences, such as conferences, from $7.50 per meal to $10 per meal. Additionally, Ways and Means will now guarantee a fund of $25 per student org to be used on org supplies such as candy, posters or markers. Orgs must apply for this $25 in their funding applications, but the particulars of the supplies do not have to be specified in the application.
Another addition to the guidelines is a regulation that requires student orgs who collect donations at events to specify clearly in their advertising and signage that the donations are suggested, not required, at free events. In addition, student orgs who fail audits will now have the money in their account frozen for the following cycle until the issue is resolved with Ways and Means. Any amount of money allocated for future events will be retracted by the committee.
Ways and Means is also changing the way in which they communicate with orgs — they will be sending out decisions within 14 days of the funding application deadlines, and committee members will only be communicating using their Ways and Means email address, not their student
email addresses. All of these changes to the guidelines were voted on by senators, and passed during the meeting.
Next on the agenda, dean of students Marcella Hall held a forum to address student concerns and give updates on questions she has received from students regarding several key issues. The first issue was about whether or not there will be a critical ethnic studies department next year. Dean Hall stated that nothing has currently been decided.
“There have been a lot of rumors out there that critical ethnic studies has already been decided on, or that departments will be merged together,” Dean Hall said. “From what I can tell, none of that has been decided, and none of that will be decided until the faculty come together and have a seminar.”
Next, Dean Hall responded to some student concerns she had received about a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education written by Mount Holyoke psychology professor Gail Hornstein. While Dean Hall did not comment on the content of the article or on the opinions of the students who had contacted her, she did inform everybody in general terms that in order to file a complaint about the conduct of any professor on campus, the process must start with an official grievance process that begins with a conversation with the department chair.
Next, Dean Hall gave an update on campus divestment, stating that she had met with the MHC Climate Justice Coalition and outlined some next steps for working through committees to continue the work and conversation with the MHC board of trustees. At this, one student in the audience expressed the opinion that the MHC board of trustees ought to have more transparency.
Finally, Dean Hall gave an update on the construction of the new Blanchard Community Center, otherwise known as SuperBlanch. The second and third floors of Blanchard Campus Center are set to be renovated this summer, and will be open in the fall of 2017 when school begins again. Hall reiterated that the MHC campus store will be closing, and the space will be converted into the new Student Life Suite. Merchandise from the campus store will be sold across the street at the Odyssey Bookshop, although the administration is looking into having some of the store’s more popular items be available in vending machines in Blanchard.
Mail will be moving to Auxiliary Services, and the administration is looking into a new recycling system wherein students can recycle all the cardboard boxes they receive. Additionally, Hall is exploring the possibility of getting an Amazon Prime account for the college that all students can use. During fall 2017, the first floor of Blanchard will be renovated, and, if all goes according to plan, centralized dining is still slated to open in spring 2018.
The forum with Hall ended with a recap of SGA accomplishments from this year, including the installation of Elkay Hydration Stations in all the dorms, obtaining new Smart TVs for every dorm lounge and beginning the process of increasing the salary for CAs.
Hall also spoke about the new Be Well Mount Holyoke health program initiative, which will be announced and implemented for the Class of 2021 in the fall.