Sept. 9, 2013
As students start the new semester, officers of the Student Government Association are heading back to work.
SGA President Jasmine Caldwell is beginning her first year in office with Vice President Donald Apelo. Caldwell’s primary focus this semester is to ensure students are aware of their influence on the rapidly changing campus.
“I want to concentrate on guiding students in the right direction in order to utilize their influence,” Caldwell wrote in an email.
Caldwell’s personal plans include developing “strong, efficient, supportive, positive, successful, and well-rounded student leaders within and through Student Government.”
Additionally, Caldwell urged students to get involved on campus. She stated that doing so “provides [students] with opportunities that are beneficial to [their] academic, personal, and professional development.”
As this year’s president, Caldwell hopes to accomplish “a better organization, a better year, and better outcomes” and to provide positive representation and a great legacy of UCCS as this year’s chair of Colorado University’s Intercampus Student Forum.
Caldwell also plans on attempting to bring back the Grade Forgiveness Measure, a policy that SGA began working on reinstituting last year.
The current policy on campus dictates that if a student receives a “D” or an “F” in a class, the two grades are averaged out when the class is retaken. With Grade Forgiveness, the higher grade replaces the lower grade.
In May 2013 with a vote of 8-10, the Faculty Assembly denied UCCS faculty the ability to vote on whether to adopt the Grade Forgiveness Measure.
“Grade forgiveness is a worthy fight, especially since there is both student and faculty support for it,” Caldwell said on the issue. Apelo could not be reached for comment.
Similarly, other SGAmembers are also seeking to represent and help the student body when it comes to funding.
Chen Zhao, director of finance, serves as the primary point of contact for the student body in matters concerning student activity fee allocation.
He also assists club representatives with funding proposals for their events and initiates and oversees the annual budget process for SGA.
Zhao serves as the chair of Budget Advisory Committee, where student clubs’ proposals are initially reviewed and approved before being recommended to the legislative council.
“This year, I will promote our new funding guidelines to all student clubs, to fund student club events with efficiency and fairness,” Zhao said. “It’s important for SGA to help student club events to be successful.”
“Decreases in state and local funding of public universities are linked to parking cost and tuition increases,” Zhao said.
“It’s an irresistible trend of the big picture of economic conditions. SGA should try to keep the increase in a reasonable range. I highly encourage students to join SGA if they want to make a change or have their voice heard,” he added.
Chief Justice Jason Adams wants SGA to “kindle the trust of students” to make it easier for SGA to serve those they represent.
“The gap between students and their representation is a dire problem because … it suggests a lack of trust in the representation,” said Adams.
He went on to state students are encouraged to bring issues to the SGA to improve participation and communication.
“Demand action and accountability from your senators and representatives,” Adams said.
Reorganization, open positions
According to SGA faculty advisor Sabrina Weinholtz, changes in SGA’s constitution designed to “try and make sure that each branch had a distinctive job” led to a reorganization of several positions.
Several former senate positions have been converted to secretaries within the executive branch. Previously, the senate was composed of representatives from every school or college on campus and a few more special interest positions, such as the student director of sustainability.
“The senate wanted to really get back down to being just representatives of colleges so that their duties would be more streamlined and that their role was to work on the academic issues and work with the dean of each college and provide that representation,” Weinholtz said.
Other changes made included the loss of the senator of the graduate school, which was written out of the constitution to prevent one college from having double representation, Weinholtz said.
The changes were “a long process [SGA] went through last year,” Weinholtz said. SGA held town hall meetings and sent out drafts to students via email to receive feedback. The changes were voted through in May.
In order to pass, it had to “go through the house and get a three-fourths vote and then the senate and get a three-fourths vote,” Weinholtz explained.
While many of the SGA officeholders have retained their seats from last semester, several positions are filled by new members.
Vacant seats for representatives at large were filled by Janine Cantrell Jamar Anderson. Both ran unopposed. Kyle Lee is the new senator of business.
Laura Schreiner and Mathew Driftmier were voted in as secretary of housing and secretary of sustainability, respectively.
Frank Deboit is the new senator of public affairs.
Jason Decost and Chris Kasperski recently filled representative at large positions. Currently, there are seven open representative at large seats.
Additionally, the senator of Beth El, the senator of education, the secretary of athletics and three justice positions are also open.
Representative at Large Courtney Eldred indicated SGA is working to fill the numerous vacancies within the House.SGA is interviewing students for vacant positions, and meetings are open to the public and listed online (uccs.edu/sga).