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Fresh fruit, fresh spaces pass initiatives


New changes may be coming to campus after 10 out of 17 student initiatives were approved by a campus-wide vote on Wednesday. The initiatives range from proposals to use the Main Quad Hall more frequently to buying a new espresso machine for Bob’s Underground Café. The initiatives required a 50 percent overall voter turnout and a two-thirds ‘yes’ vote in order to pass.

One of the most popular initiatives, which passed with 95.48 percent approval, seeks to create a wider selection of fresh fruit in the Dining Hall. Alex Schmiechen ’17 and Richard Li ’17 authored this initiative.

“I just really like fruit,” Schmiechen said. “It used to be a significant part of my diet and now it’s not really as much of an option … I walk to McNally’s once a week to get berries and things and it would be nice to not have to do that.”

The 10 approved initiatives will now each be paired with a member of the Student Initiative Committee to work towards their eventual implementation. Some initiatives will be fairly easy to implement, like setting up campus computers to run Tab for a Cause, an application that donates money to charity. Others require more outside involvement.

“The job of the Student Initiative Committee is to facilitate the actual enactment of the initiative,” said SGA Treasurer Roni Finkelstein ’15.  “So, especially if it’s a policy proposal or something like that, they’ll usually hand it off to someone in the administration to make sure it happens.”

Those involved with the fresh fruit initiative will likely have a discussion with Dining Services about where the Dining Hall currently buys their fruit and the feasibility of bringing a wider variety in. Schmiechen said that a similar proposal was tried in the past, but the expense of buying more fruit was a barrier to implementation. If this happens again this semester, she says she has another plan to get her fruit fix.

“We’re thinking another option would be for the Grill to start selling fruit and then at least there would be more fruit on campus that people could buy with Dining Dollars,” Schmiechen said.

Student initiative authors and their committee sponsors will now need to determine how they will get funding. The initiatives are funded on a case-by-case basis and funding is necessarily limited by SGA’s other financial commitments. According to Finkelstein, last spring SGA spent an unusually large amount of money—17,000 dollars—on student initiatives because of the purchase of a new draft system in Lyle’s Pub and new equipment for Bob’s Underground Café.

“This semester, when we’re looking at doing student initiatives, we’re going to have to take into account other spending and maybe wait until half or three-quarters of the way through the semester before we make any financial commitments,” Finkelstein said.  “If we look at our spending patterns and see that we’re under-allocating, underspending, we’re probably going to be able to invest in some student initiatives that we feel are appropriate for a student government to fund.”

If a project does not fall under SGA’s main responsibilities, committee members will work with the appropriate people to facilitate funding.

“For example, for buildings and management stuff we’ll reach out to Facilities Management … For textbooks we’ll reach out to the library to see what kind of funding they have available,” Finkelstein said. “At the same time we want to make student lives better. If students decide they want to make something and an overwhelming majority approves of it then we do our best to make sure that happens.”

Students who are interested in helping to get strawberries in the Dining Hall, a graffiti wall in South Campus or any other of the eight initiatives should email [stifund]. Student Initiative Fund Chair Eliana Schechter ’17 encourages everyone to help with the implementation process.

“[Everyone] is welcome to come to our weekly meetings [on] Sunday at 3 p.m. in JRC 225,” Schechter said. “They can also get involved in the process of doing these initiatives, which would be great.”

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