SGA meeting highlights: March 16, 2017

The Student Government Association held its fourth senate meeting of the semester on Thurday, March 16 at 9 p.m.

Chancellor Keith Carver was in attendance for the meeting and took questions from the chambers about anything they may have concerns about.

Q: What is your overall goal for the University while you’re here?

A: Student success and connecting with the community. Carver reiterated that student success is not only about enrollment, he said it continues with opportunities in the four to six years that students are here as well as with improving graduation rates and student services like advising.

Q: What is the status with the positions on campus that are interim?

A: The Library Director and provost positions are being finalized now. Once we have hired a provost, Carver said that people will begin looking into replacing some of the interim department chairs. The Athletic Director search is ongoing as well and the Chief Information Officer’s position is in the final stages of being filled.

Q: What is the status of the Latimer building?

A: It has reached the governor’s budget and is going through state processing. Carver said the university is seeking an architect and he hopes to see classes in the building by the year 2021.

Q: Can you give us an update with the 15-4 Resolution?

A: The offices who are benefiting from and organizing the terms negotiated in the resolution are going to give a status report to administration on May 4, 2017.

Q: Where are we at with enrollment compared to previous years?

A: Freshmen acceptance rates are up 13% and transfer student acceptance rates are up 30%. Carver said he has hopes for a fall freshman class of nearly 1,000 and a transfer student population of 500 students.

Q: What programs can we implement to improve retention rates?

A: Carver said he hopes to see a, “cohort program,” implemented where small groups of students would begin the process of starting their education the summer before their freshmen year. They would receive leadership-type courses and register for classes together so those small groups have a tight-knit set of students to go through college with. Carver said he has seen this at other universities and it has proven effective when done properly.

These among other questions were asked to Carver. He regularly interacts with students on social media and can be contacted with student questions.

John’Na Webster gave a report at the senate meeting on behalf of the I Feel ARTstanding (IFA) organization at UTM. She encouraged SGA members to get involved with IFA’s upcoming program on April 5 at 5:30 p.m. by putting on a skit that communicates the importance of seeking treatment for mental health. This program works to eliminate stigmas that surround mental healthcare.

The SGA will be hosting a food insecurity forum at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 21 in Watkins Auditorium. This forum is to discuss the severity of food insecurity and address what students at UTM can do to help. SGA members will outline their “Skyhawks Share” program to develop a meal bank to assist students in need.

The creation of this bank will be followed by a donation day on Thursday, March 23. Students may donate meal swipes or $5 to be counted as one meal for the bank. Faculty may also donate $5 to count as a meal that day. For more information regarding the “Skyhawks Share” program, students and faculty can contact their SGA representatives.

Multicultural Affairs Committee announced they will be having a “Music and Activism” program on April 18, with more details to come soon. All other committees are awaiting meetings and are still pursuing their previously proposed legislation.

The last piece of business for the night was the approval of the second constitutional revision packet, as well as the acceptance of Porter Streater III’s resignation as a senator for the College of Business and Global Affairs. Streater has been sworn in as the new Athletic Liaison and his senator position is being filled by Kenny Friend who was also sworn in during the meeting.  Preasley Yates was also appointed to the position of senator for the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences during the new business section of the meeting.

With the start of election season, members will be holding a “Meet the Candidates” forum at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 20, in the Legislative Chambers, UC room 111. Students are encouraged to attend to learn about the platform and ideas of the new potential SGA cabinet. A debate amongst the candidates will also be held on Monday, March 27.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:11 p.m.

Every student is a member of SGA and is encouraged to attend senate meetings. The next senate meeting is scheduled for after spring break in the University Center’s Legislative Chamber, Room 111. Questions can be directed to student body president, Joshua Diltz at josmdilt@ut.utm.edu.

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