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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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Summer wrapup: SGA passes first bill, discusses football ticket changes


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The SGA Senate passed a carbon-neutrality bill on June 28, which aims to make the University a carbon-neutral campus by 2050. | File photo/The Cougar

The Student Government Association held the last of its three summer Senate meetings on Wednesday night, concluding a session that saw the approval of the 54th Administration’s first piece of legislation — a carbon neutrality bill.

The Senate unanimously approved the bill on June 28, which aims to partner the University with Second Nature, a nonprofit organization, and become a carbon-neutral campus by 2050. The partnership would implement a plan to achieve a net zero carbon footprint.

“The unique thing about Second Nature is that you’re able to create a climate action plan that is able to fit your university model,” said SGA President Winni Zhang, who co-authored the bill with Director of External Affairs April Alex.

In effect, the bill is an endorsement from SGA to ask the University to sign Second Nature’s climate action agreement. Seventy-four percent of universities that have signed the Second Nature agreement have saved money on energy, Zhang said.

The plan is still in its rudimentary stages, Zhang said. The bill’s passing should launch the process for the University to sign the agreement.

The only other piece of legislation the Senate considered this summer was an effort to specify marketing and publicity efforts for SGA’s occasional town hall meetings. The bill, co-authored by Sens. Valerie Campos and Adelle Flores, failed to pass at the June 28 meeting.

The SGA Internal Affairs Committee chairman, Matthew Stell, said the Senate will consider another vote on the bill at the Senate’s first fall meeting on Aug. 30.

“We tried to make the bill as simplistic as possible, but I guess that didn’t go over well (in the Senate),” Stell said at Wednesday night’s meeting. “The committee as a whole decided that there were no edits to be made to the bill. They felt like the bill should stand as it is.”

The bill would redefine rules to specify how SGA should publicize its town hall meetings, which serve as public forums for UH community members to share concerns with SGA.

Football ticketing, syllabus changes

The Department of Athletics is considering the implementation of a new ticket policy for football games this fall, Zhang said on Wednesday, that will no longer allow students to attend games with a Cougar Card only. The change, which is not finalized, will require students to claim tickets online in the week prior to the game. Claiming will be cut off at 5,024 tickets, she said.

“I think we should we should go ahead and implement this for games that we predict are going to go over 5,000 (students),” Zhang said. “This would ease the students into the policy, so it’s not something they have to do every single game.”

Zhang said SGA will be working with the athletics department to develop the policy.

Zhang also announced on Wednesday that starting this fall, all syllabuses will contain new sections from Counseling and Psychological Services detailing how students can access their services. The deans of each college approved the change, she said.

‘Disruptive’ behavior

The final meeting of the summer closed with Speaker of the Senate Fahad Rehan admonishing the Senate for “constant talking, constant laughing and constant jokes.”

“I was very disappointed today with the meeting,” Rehan said. “There were multiple times when people were talking out of turn. While your colleagues were talking and making points, other people were talking and laughing and having side conversations. I know that’s going to happen, but I ask that you at least do it in a manner that’s not disruptive to everybody else.”

Rehan asked the Senate to behave as if UH President and System Chancellor Renu Khator is present at every meeting.

Within SGA, several executive positions are still vacant, Zhang said, including Director of Research, Director of Public Relations, Director of Finance, the vice president’s Chief of Staff and a number of assistant and special adviser positions. Interested students can apply through SGA’s page on Get Involved.

The next SGA Senate meeting will be held Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. in the Senate Chamber.

Web Editor Marialuisa Rincon Bianchi contributed reporting. 

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