Much ado about nothing in particular: referendums, recesses run last SGA meeting

Frustration and constant interruption punctuated the Student Government Association’s most recent meeting.

In a senate meeting that needed three roll call votes and three separate recesses, the senate approved referendums to be added to the ballot for the election, which opens April 3.

In addition, an update on the association’s budget was presented by Chief Financial Officer Juan Alvarez.

SGA started the school year with $9,000 and have spent $2,779.16. There is $6,220.84 remaining in the overall budget, but when it comes to the legislative budget, no money has been spent. That budget still stands at the full amount of $800. This year is also the first in years where the legislative budget was not $1,500.

“From our $9,000 that the university gives us, if we don’t spend that by the end of the semester, then that goes back into the university pool, and we will no longer have access to that money,” Alvarez said.

The SGA permanent endowment fund stands between $19,000 and $21,000, and is essentially a rainy-day fund that can be used for larger projects. It’s currently under audit to determine the exact amount Alvarez said.

“The way that the SGA permanent endowment fund works, is that it is a private account that SGA holds,” Alvarez said. “So, we’re able to access that fund anytime we please.”

The annual Big Event is April 1. SGA will have a number of events throughout the week to promote the service project, such as a fundraiser at Raising Cane’s restaurant March 30, to “help raise money for the Big Event,” SGA President Jamie Cardenas said.

However, it’s unclear how the money will be used for. The Big Event Committee is allocated $3,800, according to the budget.

A referendum was also passed to poll the student body over whether they support the installation of solar panels on the Munday Library. The referendum is authored by Sen. Miguel Escoto, who says solar panels would attract students to the university and reduce the energy costs for the library.

“If a large majority vote in favor of this project, it will help the Student Government Association convince St. Edward’s University administration that fighting climate change on our own hilltop is a worthy cause,” Escoto said.

However, when it came time for the senate to vote, Parliamentarian Zwiesineyi Chindori-Chininga was nowhere to be see. Confusion arose on what the next step was to approve the referendum.

“Where is the parliamentarian?” Vice President Carlos Martinez asked. “So what needs to happen is that this needs to be approved, it is not a bill, therefore Mr. Edward’s, I’m going to invoke your infinite wisdom,” Martinez said, realizing the parliamentarian had left.

Martinez was referring to the Election Commissioner Jonathan Edwards, who also served as vice president for the 2015-16 academic year. Edwards gave his advice to the senate, which then voted on the referendum.

“I apologize for any confusion and the process,” Martinez said. “The parliamentarian isn’t here. Two, I’ve been working at the Capitol, so it’s interesting to have that set of parliamentary procedures and have that in my head and this.”

A second referendum was passed over student pay, authored by Sen. Jovahana Avila. 

The question of whether students would favor higher pay for on-campus student workers will appear on the ballot. Currently, freshman are paid $8 per hour, sophomores $8.25, juniors $8.75 and seniors $8.75.

Senate Bill 11, which established a Standing Safety Committee, was authored by Sen. Cameron Galvan. The bill was tabled at the last meeting March 9.

SB-11 would require future vice presidents to appoint a minimum of three and maximum of five senators to a committee. 

Other SGA members or students can be added, and the committee will work with Office of Campus Safety to address safety issues. 

The bill’s requirement that future administrations establish a safety committee was a concern voiced among senators. However, the bill narrowly passed first passage in a 7-5 vote.

The SGA election season kicks off March 29 and concludes April 7, when the winning candidates will be announced. 

Andrea Guzman contributed to this report.