Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
September 24, 2020

SGA joins Sustainability Coalition, funds groups

By JOHN FRYE | March 29, 2018

The Student Government Association (SGA) proposed a new STEM program for inner-city high schools in Baltimore, as well as an on-campus sustainability coalition at their weekly meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting, which began with freshman Sam Mollin taking oath as the council’s newest senator, also included a discussion on two previously circulated resolutions, the Tobacco Survey Funding Bill and the Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance’s (DSAGA) LGBTQ+ Panel Funding Bill. 

The Tobacco Survey Funding Bill, sponsored by Freshman Senator Aspen Williams, approved the content of a proposed survey about the abuse of tobacco smoking policies on campus and was approved unanimously by the SGA.

DSAGA’s LGBTQ+ Panel Funding Bill seeks to establish a speaking panel open to the study body to discuss issues pertinent to LGBTQ life at Hopkins. With an updated funding amount requested, the bill passed unanimously as well.

After the existing legislation was finalized, the SGA moved to discuss new funding requests for the STEM Leads Bill. 

The bill, presented by Lambda Epsilon Mu (LEM) and the Latinx Pre-Health Honor Society, requested funding to host a weekly neuroscience seminar at low-income high schools across Baltimore. 

Junior Julia Duvall, the bill’s sponsor, elaborated on how the seminar would advance students’ understanding of science and why she felt personally compelled to introduce the legislation. 

“Our main initiative this year is outreach,” Duvall said. “We mainly wanted to focus on high school students and the inner city Baltimore community. There are outreach programs at middle schools and elementary schools, but no one has tried to do anything for high school students.”

One of the target high schools in question boasts a diverse student body where over 32 different languages are spoken. According to Duvall, the school’s current education system lacks the funding and capacity to meet its students’ needs.

“The thing is, they hardly have any AP courses,” Duvall said. “They have two. And only 17 percent of students take the SAT.”

She said she was shocked when she discovered how little attention had been paid to preparing students for future careers, particularly in the STEM field.

“Our main initiative is to interest them in STEM while also introducing them to aspects of the college application cycle,” she said. “I’m collaborating with Dr. Linda Gorman, who spoke to the students about the nervous system.”

By educating high school students about science, Duvall hopes she can better prepare them for standardized testing. She ultimately believes that a more comprehensive education could allow students to pursue a degree at Baltimore City Community College, which is set to grant two years of free tuition to local residents.

After a brief clarification of the funding amount, the bill was passed unanimously.

The SGA then shifted its focus to a resolution for a Sustainability Coalition, a proposal sponsored by Junior Class Senator Clarissa Chen. 

The Sustainability Coalition would foster collaboration between environmental and sustainability groups on campus and provide a platform for student input on ecological issues. 

“One of the biggest activities the coalition will be doing is hosting where students can participate and voice their needs, discuss environmental projects they’re working on, and talk to other people about sustainability,” Chen said.

She voiced her optimism about the impact the coalition could have for the University’s role in protecting the environment.

“We’re super excited about the prospect of bringing everyone together around the issue of sustainability and making that much larger impact by combining all of our sustainability groups,” she added.

While Chen, at the meeting, made no requests for funding, she said that SGA’s presence in the initiative would allow more students to readily take part in it.

“For us at SGA to be a part of the JHU Sustainability Coalition, it’s really easy,” she said. “They just want to see that we’ve given support to student sustainability issues on campus. And, obviously, SGA is a huge representative of the student body, so we’re important for that.”

Alongside giving a broader voice to on-campus environmental activism, Chen said, the coalition would provide students with more sustainability oriented events, as well as updates on how to live more environmentally conscious lives.

SGA unanimously agreed to join the Sustainability Coalition.

The meeting concluded with a discussion on future events within the SGA, as well as resolutions to be introduced at a later date. Among the topics mentioned were a revised method of voting for the Student Leadership Awards and a reminder, by Sophomore Class Senator Dean Chien, to attend the Mental Health Student Panel. 

Freshman Class Senator Lauren Paulet, with the support of Freshman Class President Sam Schatmeyer, suggested a bill to combat food insecurity on campus. According to the two, the issue came to their attention after spring break, where it became apparent that many students who stayed on campus over the duration of the holiday lacked adequate dining options. 

While the details of how the resolution would incorporate the Hopkins administration in resolving the issue, SGA agreed that such a measure to combat food insecurity was worthy of consideration, and has set to discuss the Food Insecurity Bill sometime in the near future.

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