Monday, February 21, 2011

Feb. 17, 2011 SGA meeting

What Happened at the SGA Meeting?
The Student Government Association met Thursday, Feb. 17 for its second senate meeting of the semester. 
A representative from USA Today, Senior Account Manager Gretta Clem, discussed The University of Memphis’s four-week pilot of the Collegiate Readership Program.  The program involved bringing three newspapers to campus: The New York Times, USA Today and The Commercial Appeal.
Clem said 1,042 papers were read each day, with The Commercial Appeal being read the most at an average of 430 copies per day. Based on 23,000 students, The U of M had a five percent consumption rate of the papers.
Eight-nine percent of about 800 students surveyed said they would read at least one paper a week.
If the program were to stay at The U of M and keep a constant consumption rate of five percent, it would cost about $72,000 a year for the three papers to stay on campus.  SGA is currently looking to fund the money by raising the $44 student activity fee by $3.
Senator Rachel Goodwin, sophomore political science major, disagrees with charging every student $3 a year.
“I have concerns of everyone paying for something that five percent of students are using right now,” she said.
SGA President Hunter Lang noted that with a pass along ratio of about four students, the number of papers picked up do not necessarily represent the number of students accessing them.
“Every student has access to this,” Lang said.
He also noted it would take a student reading 1.5 papers a year to compensate for the fee, with every paper read after that being no cost to that student.
Senator Tyler DeWitt, junior accounting major, said with the pass along ratio of four students factored into the five percent consumption rate, “technically only 17 percent of students have access” to the papers.
USA Today will bill The University only for what papers are picked up each day.  With only five percent of the student body picking up papers, the cost would remain about $72,000 a year. If more students started to access the program, the cost would increase proportionately.
DeWitt said he wants to put the decision of keeping the program up to a vote by the student body.  He suggests the money to pay for the program come from SGA’s budget. Though he is in favor of keeping all three papers, he mentioned that keeping only two of the papers would lower the total cost per year.

Lang and DeWitt discuss the benefits and future of the Collegiate Readership Program

What Else Happened?
President Hunter Lang appointed Joe Hopper, 22-year-old freshman to the senate. 

Hopper, pictured above, said that with seven tattoos and four piercings he’s “not looking to be pretty,” but that he’s been through a lot in his life and has experience to bring to the senate.  Hopper was voted as a senator at large by a unanimous vote by the senate.
What Senate Bills Were Passed?
Travel Bill 86, proposed by Senator Tyler DeWitt, was passed.  This bill funded 18 students $2,822.32 to attend a four day conference in Tallahassee, FL.  Two of the students will be presenting dance lessons at the conference.
Senate Bills 40-43, proposed by Senator Tyler DeWitt, were the first of ten bills called a comprehensive reform package that would rewrite SGA’s By Laws, making them more sufficient and concise, DeWitt said.
Eventually the bills were voted to be sent back to committee in order for them to all be presented together as a package at the next meeting, March 3.
If passed, Senate Bill 40 would have raised the requirements of taking six hours of classes a semester to 12 hours in order to be a senator.  Additionally, a senator would be required to have a 2.5 GPA instead of a 2.0.
“This stands to holding our leaders and elected officials accountable and to a higher standard,” DeWitt said. “The power we have is tremendous and we need to be held accountable.  I think the student body has made that clear quite frankly.”
Several senators questioned if changing the hours taken each semester would eliminate a large amount of students and thus become unrepresentative of the student body.
Senator LaQuida Norris said, “This is a step back for us.” She said 32 percent of students were part time as of fall 2010.
Senator Hunter Dawson didn’t want to limit the variety of students either.
“We all pay money to go here, so everyone should have the opportunity to be a leader,” he said.  “[Part-time students] may be able to change this campus tremendously.”
DeWitt said he was not aware that 32 percent of students were currently part time and welcomed an amendment to the bill which put the requirement back to the previous six hours a semester.
During debate of this bill, most senators encouraged the raising of the GPA requirement by half of a point.
“If your GPA gets below that, the Student Government Association may be a distraction for you,” DeWitt said.
Though when the bill was put to a vote, two senators voted to pass it, five opposed and ten didn’t vote. 
After the meeting, DeWitt said, "The people who voted against that bill, voted against accountability.  It said a lot about the character of SGA and people who voted against that."
The remaining three bills on the agenda for that night corrected grammatical errors in the bylaws and re-ordered them for clarity.  They demanded any senator who missed three meetings without notifying the Speaker of the Senate to forfeit his/her role in SGA.
All of the bills were decided to be sent back to committee and re-discussed March 3 with the remaining six bills in DeWitt’s reform package.  This included any that were opposed or approved.

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