SGA plans initiatives to increase accessibility

By TRISHA PARAYIL | October 12, 2017

The Student Government Association (SGA) welcomed its newly-elected freshman representatives at its weekly meeting on Tuesday in Charles Commons.

Freshman Class President Sam Schatmeyer and Freshman Class Senators Evan Mays, Matt Taj, Coco Cai, Aspen Williams, Lauren Paulet and Nico Daurio were sworn into their new positions by Executive Vice President AJ Tsang.

At the beginning of the meeting, Tsang announced that 100 people participated in the Ban the Box Rally on Saturday. The approximation is based on T-shirt distribution.

Following a talk given by Stanley Andrisse, a postdoctoral fellow at the Hopkins School of Medicine Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, at the first meeting of the year, SGA passed a resolution affirming their support for the Ban the Box movement, which calls for employers to stop requiring job applicants to disclose criminal records.

Both Tsang and Executive President Noh Mebrahtu are strong proponents of the movement.

The SGA is currently in the process of creating a new website to include a larger database of legislation, minutes and other documents dating back to three years in order to keep the student body better informed on the SGA’s activities and goals.

After the budget for each class was reviewed, the discussion shifted to the goals that each sub-committee has for the upcoming year. Senior Class Senator Mieraf Teka discussed the ongoing projects of the Committee of Academic Affairs and Student Services.

“We will work on Intersession class input and work on providing for advising resources for non-pre-meds, including sending out a questionnaire to see what the biggest issues are that we can work to address,” Teka said.

Following the briefings by the chairs of the various committees, each class council summarized their objectives for the semester.

The first event that the senior class council has planned is the beer tasting event this Thursday for seniors who are 21 or older.

In order to make the SGA more accessible to their constituents, the junior class council will continue to hold “Coffee with Council Chats” — or office hours — at Brody Café. The junior class council also plans to initiate a food pantry at Hopkins with their “Save a Slice” event.

Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Darlene Saporu discussed initiatives that the Office of Diversity and Inclusion have begun this semester, including Diversity Champions, or faculty leaders within each department, who work to advance their department’s diversity and inclusion goals. Another initiative is a fellowship for faculty members that is designed for diversity and inclusion work.

Saporu also mentioned the challenges that her office face, particularly the limited number of applicants with diverse backgrounds.

“Especially in STEM and natural sciences, we are dealing with a very small pool of candidates with PhDs,” she said. “We have been working on outreach to the younger population, getting involved in volunteer work, partnerships, to get younger people interested in STEM careers.”

She also mentioned that there is stiff competition with other institutions over candidates, particularly those in engineering fields. However, she also stressed more positive aspects of Hopkins, citing the prestigious research opportunities for faculty and the location of Hopkins in Baltimore.

“Some of you may see Baltimore as an opportunity, some of you may see it as a challenge,” Saporu said. “We see it as an opportunity. Baltimore definitely has a lot to offer.”

Tsang then presented information about the Homewood Council on Inclusive Excellence, which was launched in September 2016 after the idea was broached at an open forum with more than 100 attendees.

Sophomore Class President Anthony Boutros informed the SGA about plans for a new office for the Student Disabilities Services.

The meeting adjourned after a quick discussion about spirit wear for the SGA members.

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