The Student Government Association (SGA) debated different topics it will push for during its upcoming annual dinner with University President Ronald J. Daniels at its weekly meeting on Tuesday. Members also voted on four bills, including the introduction of a Latinx & Hispanic Caucus.
At the dinner, SGA members will present their ideas on topics they believe are of high importance to the student body. Some topics included student organization funding, civic engagement, transportation, mental health and changes to the academic calendar.
Students agreed that their dinner with Daniels should include a discussion about student organizations on campus. Junior Class President Isaac Lucas explained that they hoped their conversation could help construct a better system to distribute funds.
“We are trying to work with President Daniels about how to get a more straightforward organizations system and be more upfront about organizations, about where their money is coming from and where we distribute it,” Lucas said.
Additionally, SGA decided to discuss University-sponsored transportation with Daniels, particularly issues with the JHU Shuttle Service. Senior Class Senator Tiffany Thomas noted the importance of reliable transportation for students.
“Some of the public transportation that is offered make women in particular feel uncomfortable if they have had a lot of negative experiences on public transportation offered around Baltimore,” she said.
A major issue SGA wants to discuss with Daniels is the length of time it takes for students to call a shuttle. Members would like to call for an increase in the transportation budget.
“I wanted to bring up transportation because they are not budging on the transportation budget at all. In fact, they want to decrease it,” Thomas said. “Now a lot more people know about the Blue Jay Shuttle, which is fantastic, but it also takes a lot more time for a Blue Jay Shuttle. It takes about 30 minutes when it should take 15 minutes.”
SGA members decided that these two issues would be the central talking points with Daniels.
Another issue that was heavily discussed, but was ultimately not chosen, was mental health resources on campus.
“There is a really new initiative that the administration has put forward for mental health, so I think cumulatively we decided that there are other more pressing issues that Daniels can have a greater impact on and we can see how this new initiative for mental health plays out before we talk about doing something else,” Thomas said.
Additionally, students voted to recognize and establish a Latinx & Hispanic Caucus, which was introduced by Freshman Class President Breanna Soldatelli.
“This is to establish a caucus similar to the black caucus with more of a focus for students on campus as Latin female or male or other or Hispanic,” she said. “The purpose of this caucus is to have a point of contact for all of those cultural groups on campus since they are a minority. That way we can represent their interest fairly and deal with things that specifically affect that community.”
SGA passed a bill proposed by Students for Environmental Action (SEA) for a SEA Garden and Native Plant Giveaway event.
Although SEA does not have an annual budget, the bill will provide funding for native plants from Herring Run Nursery, mulch, compost and tool rental to create a new native plant garden. SEA will host a native plant giveaway at Spring Fair with plants from the newly constructed garden.
In addition, SGA’s Committee on Student Elections is looking for students to run for executive board positions and class council positions. Information sessions will be held at 8 p.m. on Feb. 24 and 25 in Charles Commons, and elections will begin the morning of March 9 and end the evening of March 11.