Senate votes on new committee, holds elections

BY  EMMA RUBIN ’20

Mount Holyoke’s senate meeting on Tuesday, April 10 included several elections and referendums for its senators. As usual, the meeting began with ideas and feedback during which  students expressed discomfort at being accosted by other students tabling in Blanchard, confusion about campus pathways and concern about an “Islamophobic” speaker coming to campus for an event.

Senate then listened to a presentation from the “Lavender Committee,” an unofficial SGA group seeking to be approved as a fully functioning committee in the upcoming academic year. The committee intends to support LGBTQIA+ students on campus, and “celebrate how the community has navigated their experiences on campus and abroad.” The group said  that gaining official committee status will help them to achieve continuity and ensure that the group  continues to run and receive funding on a yearly basis. The committee also proposed different ideas to implement on campus, including an annual lavender ceremony for graduating seniors and a queer alum conference. Senators voted in favor of instituting this committee.

Senators also voted in favor of  Mount Holyoke becoming a bottled-water free campus, meaning that “Mount Holyoke College will stop selling and providing bottled water at events and in the dining halls and vending machines.” Senator for Think Outside the Bottle Naomi Brown ’21 emphasized that the issue of bottled water extends past environmental problems, but also connects with human rights in how it commodifies a basic human need. While the consensus of Senate only  represents the student body’s decision on the issue (before a change in policy, administration will be consulted), it comprises an important part in making institutional decisions.

Senate then elected their executive board members for next  year. The chairs of senate, student orgs and halls were the contended positions of the evening. According to the SGA constitution, these three positions are directly voted on by senators after the other executive board positions have been elected in all-campus elections.

Next, Joud Mar’i ’19, SGA treasurer,  provided an in-depth financial presentation about the budget for the upcoming academic year. The budget is financed from the $200 activities fee that students pay, $22 of which goes directly to Residential Life. Due to excess funding applications this year, Ways and Means was not able to put additional funds into the reserves, but is anticipating putting around $30,000 in the savings for next year. Mar’i reviewed the various types of expenses including operational, fixed, SGA and club sports and student organizations.

The most notable change regarding the budget in this category is the decrease in funding allocated towards club sports. Whereas  SGA has previously dedicated about 30 percent of its budget (about  $109,000 this past year) to club sports, it will reduce this portion to 16 percent in 2018-2019. Mar’i explained that this was a change that they have been discussing and negotiating for a while, and that they are hoping it will put pressure on finding additional funding sources. “There was less money available to other student organizations on campus,” Mar’i said, “We cannot be funding 30 percent of our budget just for six club sports.”

Ways and Means calculated 16 percent by proportionally tallying the number  of students who participate in such activities (around eight percent of the student body), and doubling that to ensure that the clubs are able to continue their athletic activities feasibly.

Also new next semester, Ways and Means will begin operating from a monthly budget rather than a semesterly budget. The monthly financial plan for next year is based on the volume of applicants received each month in the past year and includes some additional cushion room to adjust for unforeseen circumstances.

 

SGA E-Board Election Results

Chair of Senate: Salina Hussain ’21

Chair of Halls: Nohelya Zambrano ’21

Chair of Orgs: Zoe Brown ’21

Mount Holyoke News

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