In their meeting on Tuesday, the Student Government Association (SGA) discussed various requests for funding from student groups.
At the beginning of the meeting, Sophomore Class Senator Alex Walinskas discussed having online scheduling for first-time appointments at the counseling center.
“[Counseling Center Director Matt Torres] was very receptive to all of our feedback and really just talking about it, the restraints that the Counseling Center has, but despite budget restraints and the position that they’re in, they’re genuinely receptive,” she said. “So something that he said is that they’re going to roll out online scheduling over the summer... it’s for the first time only... they can fine tune it in the fall.”
Director of Student Leadership and Involvement Kirsten Fricke gave an update on what she has been working on.
“We’ve been very busy interviewing candidates for the Associate Director of Leadership Development... we have one more person, and then next week is really getting into the world of Spring Fair. So I think we’re just in survival mode right now like you all are,” she said.
SGA voted to give SLAM, a student hip-hop dance group, a budget of $861 for registration at two dance competitions they were accepted into.
Freshman Class Senator Coco Cai presented and voiced her support for SLAM’s funding proposal.
“SLAM is the only hip-hop dance group at Hopkins, and we all know that there’s been budget cuts... [groups] are struggling with money and going to competitions,” Cai said. “I know that they are doing well and have a big campus reputation. It’s great that they’re going to competitions at Prelude New York and the University of Maryland.”
Next, SGA discussed the Spring Fair Committee’s request for funding. With a current deficit of $4200, Spring Fair expects to secure $1500 from local arts & crafts vendors but will still be $1200 short to pay for the annual fireworks performance.
Cai explained the rationale behind Spring Fair’s request.
“Fireworks are a nighttime tradition of Spring Fair, and we have it every year. Because of tight budgeting this year, however, the performance might not happen. But we still really want to keep this tradition for the students, especially the freshmen,” she said.
Nevertheless, Senior Class President Kwame Alston voiced his concerns.
“The money SGA has is supposed to be funding a lot of student groups,” he said. “Since Spring Fair already has a huge budget and the fireworks are such an important tradition, it should be on top of their item list. I’m comfortable with funding Spring Fair, but we also need to be preaching financial responsibilities to these larger organizations.”
Walinskas wondered why Spring Fair had a budget deficit.
“My only hesitancy about this is what was the reason for being in a deficit? What cause of a deficit are we making up for with this funding?”
Later in the meeting, SGA learned from the advisors of Spring Fair that requesting funding from SGA would not be a possibility.
SGA then addressed a request from the Johns Hopkins Outdoors Club (JHOC). This year, JHOC is planning to host outdoor movie screenings of environmental films, including episodes of the documentary series Blue Planet.
Emma Weinert, one of the leaders of JHOC, elaborated on the club’s request for funding.
“We, for the past two years, have hosted outdoor film screenings during Earth Week,” she said. “We’d love to do it again this year, so we’re requesting $620, which covers the cost of the outdoor film equipment and the AV setup.”
Due to their meeting’s time constraints, however, SGA will need to discuss the JHOC request in further details after the meeting.
Lastly, SGA addressed some professors’ complaints about the high quantity of “accommodation letters” coming from the Student Health and Wellness Center, which prove that the student is sick and present at the Center during their absence in the classroom or during exams. The University is considering changing its policies to limit the use of these letters.
Freshman Class Senator Matt Taj shared his personal experience with requiring an accommodation letter.
“I had a flu before spring break,” he said. “[The Health and Wellness Center] gave me an email to send to my professors for not being in classes... but you usually have to CC the email to the Dean of Student Life. Since it’s not an official letter to the professor, the school is trying to make it not intrusive to the student’s privacy.”
Nevertheless, Alston called to SGA’s attention the impact such changes might have on students who struggle with mental health issues.
“We only have two case workers to deal with a campus full of very stressed out students who are actively using the counselling center to its capacity,” Alston said. “Why are we once again not pressing attention to mental health? If I broke my arm, no one would expect me to attend classes. It should be the same for mental health issues.”
Ultimately, SGA tabled the discussion, which will continue in its meeting next week.