SGA Rundown: Mailbox, FirstGen initiatives spark debate

Two extended discussions on proposals highlighted senate’s post-SGA Chapel meeting.

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SGA Rundown: Mailbox, FirstGen initiatives spark debate

Courtesy of Biola SGA

Courtesy of Biola SGA

Courtesy of Biola SGA

Austin Green, Managing Editor

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For the first time during the current school year, the Student Government Association senate could not reach a consensus on a proposal, instead moving to table an initiative from president Sierra McCoy and vice president of community relations Katy Hendricks for next week’s meeting. The senate also passed a proposal without a unanimous vote for the first time in 2018-19, fully funding Student Enrichment and Intercultural Development’s first ever First-Generation College Celebration despite reservations from some senators about the amount of money required for special t-shirts.

The senate also heard a presentation from alumna and former SGA member Lauren Peterson on behalf of Samaritan’s Purse, and another from Assistant Director of Annual Giving Amy Weaver about what the school has planned for Giving Tuesday at the end of November.

After the latter presentation, senators held an informal vote to determine three finalist causes, one of which will receive funding from Giving Tuesday. Students will vote to choose a winner during Biola’s events on that day. The three finalists are the BiolaShares food pantry, tutoring scholarships for the Learning Center and the military veterans program.

MIXED REACTION TO MAILBOXES

Hendricks and McCoy’s proposal was first on the agenda, and it immediately became clear that Biola students who had been polled online and by senators were lukewarm on the idea.

The proposal, submitted last week, would use $572.72 to fund the installation of locked mailboxes in dorms and other places around campus, primarily for students to communicate with SGA.

According to marketing coordinator Haley Russo, respondents to an Instagram stories poll voted 60 percent against the idea and 40 percent for. Numbers provided to the Chimes from Hendricks showed that 51.9 percent of voters in an online poll supported approving the proposal in full, with 26 percent against and 22.1 percent supporting a partial approval.

Additionally, several dorm senators said their constituents felt the mailboxes were unnecessary in dorms where newsletters from senators are already very visible. Many of those students, however, supported a partial passing of the initiative to have mailboxes in public places around campus for commuter students, and Off-Campus Commuter senators Jordan Wright and Naomi Hidalgo said their constituents were generally in favor of the overall idea.

The senate discussed several alternatives to a full passage of the proposal besides only funding mailboxes outside of dorms. Block senator Gabriel Plendcio pointed out that having students submit concerns digitally could be more effective and cost-friendly. Senators Kylie Dillon and Gabrielle Morris, of Stewart Hall and Hope Hall respectively, supported providing only two or three mailboxes at first to see if students use them. Morris and Hidalgo also said they found cheaper mailboxes than what the current proposal calls for.

The OCC senators also shared concerns about getting weatherproof materials for mailboxes located outside as well as possible difficulties in getting permission to install them in most public places.

However, another group of senators, including Hart Hall’s Noah Love, Sigma Hall’s Seth Gladysz and Horton Hall’s Maddie Prater supported having mailboxes in dorms. Love used examples of a mailbox installed last year by then-Hart senator Renee Waller, which she used in several creative ways and came to be known for. He and Gladysz both cited alleged benefits of having a permanent, SGA-branded item in every dorm lobby for such a low cost.

After much discussion, the senators voted 10-1 to table a vote on the proposal to next week. Love, the biggest proponent of passing the measure in full, had the lone no vote.

FIRSTGEN GETS CELEBRATION FUNDING

Later in the meeting, discussion turned towards SEID’s $4,000 outside proposal to fund Biola’s first-ever participation in the nationwide First-Generation College Celebration on Nov. 8. Unlike the previous proposal, this had much more widespread support online, according to Russo and Hendricks.

Several senators shared concerns about the cost, including the $3,000 going towards special t-shirts that would be given away to first generation students, staff and faculty at a lunchtime event by the fireplace. Morris, Gladysz and Love all expressed interest in supporting a partial passage of the proposal that would reduce the number of t-shirts from the approximately 300 called for.

However, several other senators supported passing the proposal in full, citing the need to further build SGA’s relationship with SEID by helping augment SEID’s reportedly small budget.

After this, Morris said that as a first generation student, she understood the need for representation among students even though she was slightly more in favor of cutting the number of t-shirts. Soon after, she and Love endorsed a full passage, but Gladysz remained hesitant to do so, especially after hearing that some students already had custom shirts from FirstGen.

Morris moved to pass the proposal in full, which Plendcio seconded. The senate passed the proposal 10-1, with Gladysz as the only no vote.