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Saturday, November 17, 2018

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SGA attempts to diversify funding committees


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Newly appointed Speaker of the Senate Omar Jamal presided over the Wednesday meeting as senators approved 14 new committee and Senate appointments. | Photo by Ajani Stewart/The Cougar

University business related to parking, dining, funding student organizations can move forward after Wednesday’s Student Government Association Senate meeting.

Senators appointed 14 individuals to various positions within SGA and on University committees. The only committee left unfilled was the Student Fees Advisory Committee, in which one vacant spot remains, preventing Chancellor and President Renu Khator from making her own appointments to the committee.

“One thing I value is diversity of thought,” Bauer Sen. Chris Gervasio said while the Senate deliberated on computer information systems senior De’von Washington’s appointment to the Activities Funding Board. “It leads to the best kind of possible outcomes because we are the second-most diverse University in the country.”

The Senate chose to adjourn the meeting before discussing or approving the SGA Budget for Fiscal Year 17, which started Sept. 1. After SGA requested notably fewer funds than previous years, the Student Fees Advisory Committee (SFAC) decreased its controllable budget by roughly 35 percent for FY17, SGA President Shane Smith said.

Smith said he plans to announce a Special Session of the Senate next week to approve another SFAC appointment and the SGA budget. This will be one of two remaining opportunities to approve the budget before the quickly approaching Sept. 30 deadline.

Honors College Sen. Hina Uddin strongly encouraged senators to attend next week’s meeting of the Administration and Finance Committee in anticipation of a lengthy discussion of the SGA budget.

“This budget is ready,” said Elliot Kauffman, an associate justice in SGA and two-time appointment to the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee. “It is irresponsible to not pass a budget that is ready to be voted on. It is fiscally irresponsible.”

Out of 32 applicants for the position, geoscience and political science junior Jacob Kratavil was appointed as the final College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences senator.

“One thing I want to put forth is name recognition,” Kratavil said. “I would like to walk into a gas station and, right next to UT and A&M, I’d like to see a UH hat.”

Bauer Sen. Fahad Rehan, an appointment to SFAC, voiced concern that only one other senator attended a diversity training meeting besides himself and SGA Vice President Rohini Sethi.

“All of us as a senate had promised to work on diversity,” Rehan said. “I just felt like it was important to start that initiative, get rolling on it. We had announced through Facebook about where the meeting was. For whatever reasons, we had low attendance, but I’m very confident that especially after I reiterated it several times in this meeting, that senators will respond and will come by.”

Christopher Caldwell, a political science junior, was appointed to the Food Service Advisory Committee after “staying up all night” hoping to hear he could present his case to the Senate.

Caldwell said he just enrolled at UH in August after earning his associate’s and completing his high school diploma concurrently. He hopes to provide a voice to other first year and freshmen students, who typically are not represented on University committees.

“Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter,” Caldwell said.

In addition to University committee appointments, senators also approved chairs of three Senate Committees. College of Technology Sen. Chris Sanderson will chair the Internal Affairs Committee; Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture Sen. Hunter Bodiford will chair the Academic Affairs Committee; and Honors College Sen. Hina Uddin will take the reins as Administration and Finance Committee chair.

Senator positions are still available and open for applications on Get Involved in the Bauer College of Business and Cullen College of Engineering.

Student Fees Advisory Committee appointments

  • Organizational Leadership and Supervision junior Kelechi Efochie
  • Pre-business sophomore Farah Islam
  • SGA Sen. junior Fahad Rehan

Activities Funding Board appointments

  • Former SGA Sen. sophomore Phillip Pinell
  • Computer information systems senior De’Von Washington

Food Service Advisory Committee appointments

  • SGA Sen. Alejandro Dolores
  • SGA Chief of Staff Robert Comer
  • Political science junior Christopher Caldwell

Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee appointments

  • Former SGA Chief of Staff Andrew Bahlmann
  • SGA associate justice senior Elliot Kauffman

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