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Monday, October 23, 2017

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SGA narrowly rejects transparency bill


The transparency bill was criticized for its formatting, information overload and grammatical errors, senators said. | File photo/The Cougar

A bill that would require the executive branch of the Student Government Association to post all its transactions online was rejected Wednesday over concerns that the bill needs to be improved.

The bill was rejected by a 10–9 paper ballot vote. Speaker of the Senate Fahad Rehan said he completely agreed with the measure’s intent, but it needs an “immense amount of work.”

“I think it’s very important to have this bill in place, not only for the current administration, but for future administrations,” said College of Education Sen. Ayodele Shofoluwe, who drafted the bill.

Shofoluwe said he plans to bring back the bill for another vote, but it will need to receive another vote in the Internal Affairs Committee.

The bill was criticized by Rehan and SGA President Winni Zhang for its formatting and grammatical errors. Amendments were passed during the meeting to correct some of the errors, but it wasn’t enough for the bill to pass.

“A lot of this could have been avoided if we just learned how to do effective bill writing and research and legislation,” Zhang said.

Zhang said she will go over effective bill writing this week with senators later in the week.

Other criticisms were raised aside from the formatting and grammatical errors. College of Architecture Sen. Devon Bush said he felt the bill would be an information overload.

“While I understand the necessity for transparency within this organization as far as having to count out every single expense, I feel that’s just drowning in information and not necessary,”  Bush said.

Committee appointments

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Sen. Sara Alia Rehman was appointed as chair the Academic Affairs Committee. She served on the committee in Spring 2017 and said one initiative she wants to accomplish is the creation of a UH 101 course for freshman that provides a rundown of everything on campus.

She said freshmen still feel overwhelmed despite the required new student orientations.

“CLASS already has a class in the works, so I kind of want to push it to making it University-wide, implementing it into the UH core,” Rehman said.

The second appointment of the night was management information systems junior Andrew Bahlmann to the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee. He worked on the committee in 2016-17 and previously managed traffic operations for the city of Lubbock.

Bahlmann said that he agrees with the 7 percent increase in parking rates for this school year because it will help fund future parking garages.

“While we own quite a bit of land, a lot of the land that we have we are building up to increase the academic and business institutions,” Bahlmann said. “So with that being the process we are going through, we are building parking garages because they can store more vehicles in a smaller square footage. With that being said, there is an increased cost in order to fund those.”

Bahlmann said Parking and Transportation Services is evaluating parking counters, which track how many cars are parked in each lot, to see if they could be implemented, as well as how much they will cost to build and maintain. The committee did not discuss prospective locations for the counters, he said.

Harvey Relief Fund

Briget Jans, the executive director of the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, said just over half of $800,000 collected to help UH students affected by Hurricane Harvey has been dispersed.

“We have received only 440 applications for Harvey assistance, and some of those were duplicates,” Jans said. “That’s less than 1 percent of the student population filing appeals for being affected by Hurricane Harvey. Having watched the newscasts for all of those days on end, I’m pretty certain that we have more than one percent of our students impacted.”

If students have any proof of damage, which can be provided through photos or documents, they can apply for additional financial aid, she said. Even ruined textbooks might quality for extra aid.

Click here for a link to the application.

“We have money, and we want students to submit these applications,” Jans said.

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