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January 21, 2022

SGA approves funding for advocacy groups

By NATHAN BICK | May 1, 2014

The Student Government Association (SGA) held its final meeting of the school year on Tuesday in Mason Hall. The meeting’s main focus was on modifying the “Resolution Regarding a Change in the Johns Hopkins University Sexual Violence Policy.”

The resolution is the product of a university-wide petition that junior Eliza Schultz and sophomore Carlene Partow launched earlier this semester. Over 900 Hopkins affiliates signed the petition. At the time of writing, the modified bill is not available on the SGA website, although the older version of the bill is.

No major deletions or insertions were made with respect to the bill’s content, but the language was changed to better reflect the authority and capabilities of the University. Words such as “crime,” “press charges” and “prosecuted” were replaced. Neither Hopkins nor the SGA is a legal or judicial entity, so neither is able to take legal actions on behalf of victims of sexual assault.

The bill containing the modified resolution passed by unanimous consent, with several SGA members making statements about the importance of the decision and expressing their desire to spread the word.

Through a roll call vote, the SGA also approved a bill concerning the Student Activities Commission’s policy for funding Advocacy and Awareness groups for next year. Funding for these groups was cut significantly and changed the funding schedule from a yearly to a monthly basis. A group of students attended the meeting in order to petition in favor of the bill, expressing hope for a more fair treatment and a larger commitment from the SGA in the future.

“This is another example of passionate students who have been persistent in their efforts to gain funding when they previously have not had any. $300 in Start-up capital is a big step for these student groups in their efforts and I’m glad we could implement the changes in the SAC bylaws that allow for this to happen,” Junior Class President Destiny Bailey wrote in an email to The News-Letter.

Toward the start of the SGA meeting, juniors Nikhil Gupta and Hank Strmac and senior Jon Hunt, representatives from the Beta Theta Pi fraternity (Beta) addressed the senate. They proposed a bill in which the SGA would fund a Beta-sponsored tailgate before next year’s first home football game.

The Beta representatives pointed to the event’s success earlier this year and to the pivotal participation of Bon Appétit, the University’s dining contractor, whose indoor facilities were used to prepare the food. They said that $2,000 of funding from the SGA would be necessary to continue that successful partnership. The alternative would be to prepare the food at their various private houses near campus.

Some SGA members expressed concern at the high cost, saying that this would be one of the largest block sums of money doled out by the SGA. Others were reluctant to make a decision for next year’s SGA, doubting the current senate’s authority over future decisions, while some thought that a recommendation would be useful, citing the rushed period of preparation that occurred earlier this year.

The Bill was tabled until later in the meeting, when ultimately, a motion to remove the bill was passed.

Another student proposed the creation of a committee to increase school spirit with a focus on Hopkins athletics. Beside its primary goal of promoting school pride, the committee would also serve to involve more students in SGA through a smaller, alternative organization.

SGA members discussed the proposed committee and heard input from a leader of the Hopkins Organization for Programming (HOP). Members expressed doubt over the need for this new committee. Some claimed that it would be a bad example of bureaucratic expansion, or of building out rather than building up. Others thought that starting such a committee within the HOP, which is generally well-respected and funded, might better address this issue. SGA members also pointed out that it would be a disservice to create a committee whose activities overlap with those of the HOP. This could result in a competition for funding between both committees.

“With regard to the spirit committee, I think the idea is great and it will be a much needed cohort of passionate students who will hopefully increase school spirit within the confines of athletics,” SGA Executive President Alex Schüpper wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “With regard to where it will be housed, that will be drawn out more next year, but I am really excited about the idea.”

The HOP co-chair in attendance stated that the HOP would be willing to add an additional committee with a separate application process to recruit the targeted type of student. Alternatively, the HOP would be willing to co-sponsor athletic-themed events with any independent group that might form. Although the original proposal was intended as an informal presentation of an idea and a request for feedback, rather than a fully developed plan of action, it sparked a lively debate. The discussion was ultimately tabled.

The meeting adjourned after each SGA subcommittee made a closing statement. Several SGA members expressed their satisfaction with SGA’s performance this year.

“One particularly exciting accomplishment was eliminating the Intersession fee,” Freshman Class Senator Adelaide Morphett wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “Intersession is an integral part of our Hopkins experience, and I was in the same boat as my peers when they felt outraged by the imposition of an additional fee to participate in this uniquely Hopkins feature.”

Schüpper agreed that the SGA has had a strong year.

“I feel that we’ve made great strides in increasing school spirit and campus community on Homewood, ... restructured group categorization and development to ensure student groups are more properly placed in student life ... and so much more,” Schüpper wrote.

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