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Senators gather for first university-wide meeting

By Chris Young | The Signal

Student Government Association (SGA) President Franklin Patterson opened the first university-wide senate meeting of the year on Thursday, Sept. 6 with a simple icebreaker to liven up the room before business began among the senators.

The meeting began with 11 of 26 members missing, but throughout the first hour of business the rest trickled in.

A considerable talking point for the senators was the College Transparency Act (CTA) presented by Elena Sakopoulos from Young Invincibles, an organization that serves the student voice on issues such as “healthcare, higher education and economic security,” according to their website.

The CTA wasn’t favorable among some senators due to what it seeks to accomplish relating to the privacy of students. Under the act, students would have their demographic information published alongside their income and major in aggregate and without any personal identifiers.

The act’s intent is to better connect the workforce with university students and to publicly monitor primary demographic trends at a university. Patterson encouraged the senate to vote when they reconvene to officially support the act as a university.

A senator addressed that students may now change their preferred name at the university, which will take effect on all university-wide documents, such as transcripts and PantherCards. Students may do so at the registrar’s office.

Senator Kaelen Thomas had previously broached the topic of the university’s tobacco-free policy at the last Downtown campus SGA meeting. The university’s Annual Security Report states that it falls in the hands of faculty, staff and students to “professionally and courteously” remind students of the tobacco-free policy of the campus.

The cabinet reports opened with Ayesha Iqbal from the Downtown campus discussing her concern regarding on-campus bus transportation that she brought up at the previous downtown meeting. Currently, crowds of students frequently congregate in front of Langdale Hall in an attempt to board Panther Express shuttles. Iqbal met with the parking and transportation department to discuss solutions.

The department said it wouldn’t be possible to purchase a new shuttle due to the significant costs associated with it. According to Iqbal, the shuttle system costs $150,000 a month to operate. One plan the senators proposed is to adopt a queue system so that students may line up to board the shuttles in a more organized fashion.

The Clarkston campus has completed nine senator interviews and hopes to accept and swear in all of the applicants in coming weeks.

The Decatur campus plans to host a voter registration drive soon, as well as establish a new series of events called SGA Talks which hope to engage students every week with a member of SGA.

The Dunwoody campus is testing lengthened library hours to see if it benefits students.

The Newton campus is presently attempting to get their recreation department to install a basketball court on their campus.

For new business, the senators debated for nearly 20 minutes on whether or not SGA would purchase official polos again this year. Last year, it was reported that SGA spent roughly $3,000 on the clothing. Senators voted for the purchase again, with 12 in favor, 3 against and 4 abstaining for purchasing the shirts.

SGA also discussed forming various committees, such as those for sexual assault and sex trafficking, homelessness and homecoming.

The meeting concluded with Patterson delivering a speech on carrying the vigor of the debates into their work outside the meeting.

He went around the room thanking the campuses for their involvement and their achievements in the beginning weeks of the semester.

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