The Student Government Association (SGA) debated passing a new bill which proposes to fund a trial period of free personal training sessions at the Homewood Recreation Center at its weekly meeting on Tuesday.
The bill, called the Healthy Hopkins Initiative, was introduced by Junior Class Senator Pavan Patel and was the main discussion topic of Tuesday’s SGA meeting.
The meeting also included the selection of Eric Armstrong to serve as the sixth senator on the freshman class senate, brief discussions about upcoming administrative dinners and a moment of silence for recently passed senior Evelyn Feeney.
If enacted, the Healthy Hopkins Initiative bill would allocate $1,784 of SGA money toward a trial program intended to support student mental and physical health. During the proposed three-week period, students could sign up for one or more of 70 free hours of personal fitness training at the Rec Center.
If the trial period is successful, Patel envisions bringing the initiative to Hopkins administration for permanent funding.
Patel, who has been constructing the proposal since June, emphasized the importance of SGA programs which directly impact the student body.
“I’d be pretty hard pressed to say two or three things that SGA has done for me,” said Patel. “And I feel like, as a junior, I should have that at the top of my head.”
Patel called the proposed program a “deliverable” which would provide a service directly to students, allowing them to experience the immediate effects of SGA’s actions.
“If you look at the legislation that SGA has passed, almost all of it is co-sponsoring... other organizations’ events that they want to hold,” he said. “But if that’s the primary work that we’re going to be doing, we don’t really need 30 of us to sit here and do that every week.”
Instead, he argues, the Healthy Hopkins Initiative will directly fund a service for students that will incentivize personal fitness.
Several representatives criticized the bill because of its cost. SGA Executive Treasurer Mi Tu expressed concern over the portion of SGA’s yearly budget that this particular initiative would require.
“We have 10k dedicated for SGA initiatives, for programs we create,” she said. “So that’s [nearly] one fifth of our budget in that category.”
Sophomore Coco Cai, junior Madelynn Wellons and senior Madeleine Uraih agreed that the high cost of the program was a concern for them.
Cai also expressed that she thought a trial period of three weeks is too short to demonstrate to the administration that the service would have a positive effect on students’ mental and physical health.
“I don’t see why adding a personal trainer would improve [the] working out environment so much more,” she said. “It might be helpful, but I just don’t think it’s worth the money.”
Senior Class Senator Ash Panakam doubted that the Healthy Hopkins Initiative would effectively engage students who aren’t already taking advantage of the Rec Center’s services.
“There are certain students who are going to want personal training, [but] they’re probably the ones already at the gym,“ she said. “First you’ve got to get people interested in working out, then perhaps joining a class, then perhaps personal training. It’s on the far end of the spectrum, so you’re not necessarily catering to the population that we’re trying to serve.”
While many senators expressed concerns over the price of the bill when compared to its proposed impact, Patel still received praise for his hard work on the initiative so far.
“I really like the idea behind the bill,” Wellons said.
Cai agreed, saying that the premise of giving students incentives to exercise is a good idea.
After nearly an hour of debate, Patel called for a motion to take the bill out of “pending” status and vote on it immediately. However, after a vote of 11 to 2, the representatives agreed to wait until a future meeting to hold the final vote on the bill.
In an interview with The News-Letter, Patel was unsure about when exactly his bill will be brought to the floor. He was also undecided about whether anything about the bill will change before the final vote based on SGA’s comments and feedback.
“I’m hoping that it will pass,” Patel said. “Today [SGA] voted to kind of stick to what they’ve been doing, which is co-sponsoring events of other organizations, and we already have a SAC commission that does that. I really think it’s a poor use of senators’ time.”