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Most SGA initiatives pass

By Avery Rowlison

Students made their voices heard this week by voting for student initiatives for spring semester 2011.
Some of the issues voted on this semester were the creation of an Accessibility Awareness Group, the availability of class booklists at pre-registration, the purchase of two more defibrillators, the installation of water filters around campus to eliminate bottled water usage, extension of the MathLAN network to more areas of campus and support for the Student Statement of Values.

“Our goal is to have an Accessibility Awareness Group where we would have an Accessibility Awareness Day,” said Shanna Nichols ’13, the author of the Accessibility Awareness Day initiative.

Initiatives are an opportunity that many students take advantage of each semester to make improvements to the campus. Any student can submit a proposal to be voted on.

“We … hold an open forum … so that the authors and students can bounce ideas off each other,” said SGA Administration Coordinator Elizabeth Maltby ’11.

The authors must collect one hundred signatures to show the validity of voting on the issue—fifty percent of students must vote during the election for initiatives to be valid and two-thirds of voters must vote for each initiative for it to be approved. The Student Initiative Fund then tries to pay for and enact them.

Abby Johnson ’13 wrote the Class Booklists Available at Pre-Registration initiative.

“I want to have booklists available at pre-registration to help students exchange books with each other, avoid mail room rushes, to have books ready at the start of the semester and to avoid confusion over whether the class doesn’t have books or the list hasn’t been updated yet,” Johnson said.

Students also voted on whether or not they support the Statement of Student Values drafted by SGA President Ben Offenberg ’11 and a student committee. If the initiative passes, JudCo will use the statement in their judicial processes.

Not all of the initiatives were so serious. Three of the five proposals that SGA Treasurer Gabe Schechter ’ wrote were for items that he thinks will entertain students, like the purchases of giant soccer balls for Mac Field, laser lights for dance parties and a foam machine for Harris.

SGA rents laser lights for dance parties now. It would be more cost effective to buy them instead, according to Schechter.

The fate of the foam machine is questionable. Schechter joked that this is a traditional initiative since it has been voted down many times. As for the giant soccer balls, Schechter did not exaggerate when he said giant.
“Can you imagine balls rolling around Mac Field that are the same height as the loggia?” Schechter asked enthusiastically.

Some of the initiatives would be easier to implement than others. Brad Gordon ’12, the author of the Extend the MathLAN Computer Network initiative, said, “I talked to the network administrator for the MathLAN and he said it wouldn’t be a big deal.”

But the logistics of the Late Night Coffee and Tea initiative would be more difficult because of the late night hours the beverages would be served. “Where would we store the coffee pot? And who would set them up after you graduate?” Assistant SGA Treasurer Kathy Andersen ’13 asked Schechter, the initiative’s author.

Despite whether or not these initiatives pass, they certainly raise awareness of campus issues.

“Student initiatives are good for polling student interest on campus, like the Statement of Student Values,” said Maltby.

They are an opportunity for students to make real change happen on campus, even those who may not be involved in SGA otherwise.

Results of the election and a full list of student initiatives are available on PWeb.

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