By Olivia Krauth–
SGA approved the 2017-2018 operating budget, new election rules and a resolution to ask for a student spot on the U of L Foundation board in their last senate meeting of the semester tonight.
The $1.2 million budget passed unanimously, garnering applause. The budget was discussed at the Nov. 15 meeting, and no changes were made.
The total budget amount increased $620 from last year, with no major funding shifts. The Students Activities Board, Engage Lead Serve Board, Club Programming Committee and Special Projects Fund are all covered in the SGA budget. To view a breakdown of the budget, click here.
The senate also passed a resolution asking for a seat for the SGA President on the U of L Foundation board. Similar to the SGA president’s role on U of L’s Board of Trustees, the current SGA president would sit on the board as the lone student representative.
New election rules were another motion passed tonight. Major changes include electronic applications, allowing college president and vice president candidates to run on a slate and allowing RSOs and students to endorse candidates on social media.
Additionally, a clause regarding candidate usage of SGA resources was formally clarified. The clause, which said, “Candidates may use Student Government Association resources in accordance with the Student Senate’s guidelines, if any,” concerned some senators that candidates would potentially abuse resources. An amendment brought by E-board added that those resources would be the use of computers and printers available in the SGA office, which are already available for student usage.
“The court believes that, as resources funded by members of the student body, students should be allowed reasonable access to resources that enable a cost-effective campaign,” Chief Justice Sarah Pennington said.
Last year, SGA banned slate campaigns, only allowing candidates for president and executive vice president to run together. Pennington said slate campaigns allowed for too much vote pooling.
“Students without affiliations could not challenge the lofty votes accumulated by slate campaigns, allowing certain organizations to dominate the SGA General Elections,” Pennington said.
School councils will now be a part of the general election, an idea which came about after the court did a constitutional review of the election procedures earlier this year.
“Rumors frequently circulate, but the summer of 2016 marked verified reports of election misconduct, as well as conflicts arising from councils with missing or absent constitutions,” Pennington said. Some college’s councils operate their elections privately, making it difficult to ensure rules are being followed.
“I am pleased to say that I believe this process fostered good relations between many of the justices and the councils,” Pennington said.
During executive reports, Nitzken said she had talked about recent campus climate issues and there is a possibility of U of L becoming a sanctuary campus. Those talks are ongoing.
Academic Vice President Meredith Cooksey said the 2 a.m. closing time in Ekstrom Library will continue into next semester.
Services Vice President Lauren Greenwell said the campus escort program has improved greatly after multiple complaints about the service.
Greenwell also said the restaurants on campus under construction, including the Starbucks in Ekstrom and Panda Express in the SAC, are set to open in January. She also said there are future restaurants possible in the School of Business and the School of Education.