SGA to hold first meeting of semester

By Campus Reporter

Having spent much of the Fall 2014 semester forging a relationship with the college community, the Student Government Association is reconvening Feb. 3 for its first senate meeting of the new semester. 

Last semester, SGA focused on increasing its presence on campus and creating a strong awareness of the organization. This semester, one of its main goals is to give a stronger voice to the student body by listening to its concerns and representing students on and off campus, according to Sara Kalinoski, SGA president and a sophomore art material conservation major.

To learn what issues were impacting students the most, SGA held several campuswide events to join the student body in discussion.

The collegewide forum “Let’s Talk,” which took place in November, was one of the group’s most successful events to date, Kalinoski said. The event was used to collect information from students about which issues they felt deserve attention from student government. 

“We got a lot of information back from the students that we needed to keep us going for the next semester,” said Teddie Hill, a junior journalism major and SGA vice president. “[It] helped point us in the right direction, figure out who to talk to, [and] fix some problems if we can.”

Kalinoski said much of the feedback received from students had to do with technology, including requests for more printing resources on campus and issues with Moodle. Kalinoski also said campus security was a concern and that SGA will be working to make students aware of the resources available to them. 

This semester, another major way SGA plans to amplify student voices is through continuing advocacy for an issue at the forefront of most students’ minds: affordability. 

In efforts to balance the state budget and decrease spending, Illinois legislators are considering redirecting Monetary Award Program grant funds—which provide money to Illinois residents attending approved in-state colleges who demonstrate financial need—along with reducing state education funding by 20–30 percent, according to a Nov. 24, 2014, Quad-City Times article. 

As members of the Illinois Board of Higher Education Student Advisory Committee, Kalinoski and Hill met with the organization Jan. 30 at Illinois State University to discuss MAP funds and further plans to advocate for the program at the state level. 

“What we’re doing right now is trying to get [Gov. Bruce] Rauner and all of our elected officials to understand how important the matter is to us,” Hill said. “Without that, a lot of us wouldn’t even be able to continue our education.”

SGA will also participate in the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges Student Lobby Day in the spring to meet with state representatives and ask for financial support.

As the semester unfolds, SGA will continue working to strengthen its relationship with the student body to ensure that all student needs are being addressed. 

Part of this goal includes filling eight vacant Senate positions. Though Kalinoski said there has been an improvement in SGA Senate vacancies, it is still a concern when it comes to making sure all departments are represented.

“When we’re having our meetings, we’re getting to decide on very important issues,” Kalinoski said. “If a department isn’t being represented, then that whole group of students, their voice isn’t represented, so I think it’s very important that these positions are filled.” 

With elections in April, Kalinoski said she encourages all interested students to apply for Senate positions for the coming school year. Students who are interested can submit an application through the SGA website.  

Aldo Guzman, the director of Student Activities and Leadership and SGA faculty advisor, said the organization’s increased visibility on campus has allowed it to foster better professional and communicative relationships with the college’s administration and student body. 

“In previous years, most of our student body had no idea we had a student government and that they were active and involved,” Guzman said. “This particular SGA did an excellent job at being more present at events, reaching out to the student body and building a stronger relationship with the faculty.” 

SGA’s first meeting of the semester will take place at 5 p.m on Feb. 3 in the Loft on the fourth floor of the 916 S. Wabash Ave. Building. President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim and Vice President of Student Affairs Mark Kelly will be in attendance and will speak in front of the SGA at the inaugural meeting, said Kalinoski.