Fall 2014 SGA semester in summary: 10 noteworthy actions

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The Student Government Association (SGA) meets weekly to form resolutions, bills and campaigns based off what the student body needs and wants within a designated budget.

The organization has made several noteworthy movements this year, from health resolutions to determining the Fall Concert performer.

Featured below are 10 noteworthy actions SGA made during the fall semester. 

1)  Jason Derulo

This was the first year since 2011 that SGA was responsible for funding and sponsoring the Fall Concert. 

Jason Derulo headlined this year’s event, which took place Oct. 5. 

Derulo was the first non-country artist to perform at TCU’s Fall Concert since The Fray’s performance in 2011.

Matt Spangler, student body vice president of operations, said SGA found out Derulo would be the performer at the fall concert with about two days notice before it was announced.

More than 5,000 students attended the concert.

SGA Speaker of the House Alex Cohen said SGA received positive feedback about Derulo’s performance. The concert had an even bigger turnout than the fall concert featuring Blake Shelton in the past.

Derulo’s references to women in his lyrics led to many discussions, including a “Letter to the Editor” from Student Body President Cody Westphal on TCU360. 

“I’m not a hundred percent sure Jason Derulo was maybe the best choice because of some of the words he uses in his music, but I think it opened up a really cool dialogue on campus between everybody and how his music treats women,” said Abigail Buckley, SGA outreach chair. 

Westphal said SGA spent around $200,000 on the concert from funds specifically budgeted for the event every year. 

2)  Resolutions regarding the TCU Overlay

SGA’s first response to the TCU Overlay was “A Resolution to Express Student Opposition to Proposed Residential Overlay Without a Grandfather Clause” presented on Oct. 7.

Spangler said SGA members were bothered the overlay was proposed during summer when all students weren’t at TCU to hear about it.

“We felt that they were kind of sneaky about the whole situation,” Spangler said.

Maddie Reddick, student body vice president of external affairs, said the grandfathering resolution developed when talk of the overlay began and students were not being heard in meetings with the city.

“A resolution was really effective to get our point across with how students felt,” Reddick said. 

“I think it’s great SGA represented our voices during the overlay process,” said Jaron Wagner, sophomore economics major. “They’re here to create a better environment for the students, and are continuously working to make TCU a better place.”

Reddick said SGA continued to discuss the overlay through October. 

On Nov. 4, SGA presented “A Resolution to Support the Creation of a Good Neighbor Program.”

Reddick said a Good Neighbor Program would be used to help better relations with the neighbors.

SGA will meet with various stakeholders next semester to develop a better program that will work for students, Reddick said.

3)  Men’s Sexual Assault Roundtable 

SGA hosted a Roundtable Discussion for the first time on Oct. 8 to address the issue of sexual assault.

Speaker of the House Alex Cohen said the discussion addressed the issue of sexual assault and how “it’s on us.”

Westphal said male student leaders from SGA, TCU Interfraternity Council and sports teams attended the roundtable discussion. 

Westphal said the Roundtable Discussions were meant to start a conversation with men about their responsibility regarding sexual assaults and to educate men on how to end the issue

“I think it’s really great to promote education around the issue and increase awareness,” said Shannon Mossler, senior strategic communication major. “It’s a very important issue that I think we should have a face with to stop the issue.”

Reddick said she plans to work on doing a roundtable with women next semester. 

4)  Bill to Fund Winter Break Shuttles for Students

For the first time this winter break, SGA will be funding shuttles to take TCU students to the airport.

The bill was presented on Nov. 11 and states the increasing need for transportation to airports with a growing number of out-of-state students. 

Cohen said the winter break shuttle program resulted from the success of the Thanksgiving break shuttle program.

Cohen said the program would be free for students.

Reddick said SGA implemented a reservation system and tripled the number of seats from Thanksgiving.

“I think it’s a really good thing that they’re getting shuttles for people going home for the holidays because it’s hard for a lot of people to organize who’s going home when and to coordinate rides to the airport,” Kelsey Alders, a junior strategic communication major, said.

According to the bill, SGA is allocating $6,000 in funds towards the winter break shuttles.

5)  New SGA website

SGA addressed “A Bill to Fund a New Student Government Website” on Oct. 21. 

The bill states that SGA’s website is outdated and poorly constructed.

According to the bill, The House of Representatives allocated $15,010 from the SGA House project for the creation of a new website with Ardent Creative. 

“I think there’s a lot of things and clubs around school that could use the money better than the SGA website,” said sophomore accounting and finance major Michele Ragonesi. 

Elections and Regulations Committee Chair Luke Erwin said the website is necessary for first-year student elections in the fall and campus-wide elections in the spring. 

“Next semester when there’s probably over a hundred people running for 58 something spots, it would be basically impossible for me and my committee to handle all that,” Erwin said.

Reddick said the new website would help student government connect with students. 

6)  EmpowerTCU

SGA launched a student-led movement to promote positive body image from Nov. 3-11.

During the campaign, SGA members stationed around campus with chalkboards reading “I’m awesome because” and “I’m beautiful because” with a blank space for students to fill in. 

Westphal said 150 to 200 people took the time to pose for pictures with the chalkboards. The EmpowerTCU Facebook received more than 800 “likes.”

“I think more than anything it was a good way to kind of talk about our counseling services that we offer as well as make open dialogue about an issue that is kind of taboo for a lot of students,” Spangler said.

Reddick said the campaign was presented at the Big 12 Conference to show other campuses what they had done with EmpowerTCU.

EmpowerTCU took a great step to recognize social issues on campus, said Jacob Greenstein, chair of academic affairs. 

“I think EmpowerTCU was not only a good way to make someone smile on the way to class, but also helped spread a positive message on self-image,” said sophomore fashion-merchandizing major Alexandra Ferrer. 

Student Body Treasurer Lydia Longoria said the money for campaigns like EmpowerTCU and last year’s Not On My Campus comes out of cabinet’s personal budget.

7)  A Resolution to Support the Creation of a Legal Studies Certificate Program

SGA presented a resolution on Nov. 11 to support the creation of a legal studies certificate program.

The resolution states the program would provide direction for students applying to law school.

If passed, students following the pre-law track would receive a Legal Studies Certificate with their major and minor. 

“It’s a big first step to getting the pre-law advising process smoother and hassle free,” Cohen said.

“I think a pre-law certificate is a great idea because many TCU students are interested in pursuing law school upon graduation and it would benefit them and help them get into the best law school they can,” said senior economics major Jennifer Tomany. “Ultimately I would love to see TCU have a law school like many of the other private universities we compete for students with, and [I think] this would be a great step in that direction.” 

8)  Resolution to Support TCU Becoming a Smoke-Free Campus

The current TCU Student Handbook permits smoking tobacco products and e-cigarettes on outdoor areas of campus if one is 25 feet away from an entrance/exit to university buildings.

This policy became subject to change when SGA presented a campus-wide smoking ban resolution on Nov. 18. 

Westphal said SGA Representative Ryker Thompson created the ban.

Westphal said Thompson has asthma and believed smoking on campus was a health issue. 

“I grew up with a parent who was a smoker, so I think it’s easy to just kind of stay away from it,” Steven Gossett, junior political science major, said. “If there were designated smoking areas it would be a lot better, but just banning it completely is a bad idea I think.”

Westphal said the resolution 75 percent of voters on the ban agreed with it. 

“It’s not going to happen tomorrow,” Westphal said. “It’s probably not going to happen next semester. It’s a big decision and this resolution only represents us saying ‘Hey, this is our thought.’”

A lot of people were in favor of the ban initially, SGA Outreach Abigail Buckley said.

Luke Erwin said people came to the House meeting Tuesday presenting arguments against SGA’s resolution to support TCU becoming a smoke-free campus. 

“I think that people yesterday presented a very good argument, and I’m interested to see where it goes,” Erwin said. 

9)  Bill to Provide Free Coffee to Students during Finals Week

SGA presented a bill to fund free coffee for students during finals week on Nov. 18.

SGA provided coffee during spring finals last school year and plans to provide coffee to students for the upcoming fall semester finals. 

“Students need to be energized and have a great source of caffeine so they can study hard for their finals, ” said junior accounting major Mason Tucker.

Cohen said they’re still working out some of the specific details about coffee distribution. 

SGA plans to provide additional aids for students during finals week, including extra study space in the BLUU, extended hours for Rees-Jones Hall and some other “surprises,” Cohen said.

“Whenever it’s all said and done, hopefully it will be an incredible comprehensive finals week program that really helps the students,” Cohen said. 

According to the bill, SGA allocated $5,000 of its funds to provide free coffee during finals week. 

10) 1,000 additional seats in the student section

Student section attendance at this season’s football games is higher than ever, leaving many without seats.

Spangler said they had a lot of complaints of many students leaving 30 minutes to an hour before the game and not getting any seats.

Westphal said he and a few other SGA members approached the athletics department to work out a solution for the lack of seats. 

Spangler said as a result there will be another 1,000 seats available to students at the Iowa State game Saturday. 

“This is a perfect case of advocating for students,” Spangler said.

Westphal said he didn’t know where the seats would be located, but they would be near the student section.

Westphal said he was unsure whether the seats would be available for all future games.

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