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Friday, August 23, 2019

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Senate plans to allow students to send direct feedback


So few senators were at the meeting summer Wednesday evening, that once one left the room they could no longer vote because they no longer had enough people in the room to have a majority. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

SGA’s Director of Outreach Bryan Medrano discussed how students will be able to send feedback to their respective senate representatives through Get Involved, if a new bill is passed at a future meeting. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

The last Senate meeting of the summer on Wednesday had two internal bills passed and two more bills read, including one that would allow students to directly send feedback to senators.

Among the bills discussed during the less than 50 minute meeting were the Raising the Student Minimum Wage Act and Ask SGA. At most there were only four senators in attendance at the meeting.

“We’ve officially gotten to an $8 about two weeks ago and so we’re already seeing these changes happening,” said SGA President Allison Lawrence. “I’ve talked to a few student workers and they’ve already gotten a raise, which is really good.

Lawrence said the all student workers hired beginning in the fall will have the raise.

The Raising the Student Minimum Wage Act is not a new concept to SGA. Lawrence ran on the idea of raising the wage. While the policy has already been implemented by the University, the formal bill has not yet been passed by the Senate.

The work began two years ago, Lawrence said. The cost to raise the minimum wage for workers across campus is $55,000 according to the bill.

The bill was sent to Administration and Finance for review. Once it is done being reviewed, senators will vote on it.

Another bill read for the first time detailed a new way for students to talk to their senators through Get Involved.  The bill aims to provide an easier way, outside of going and addressing the entire senate at a meeting, to speak to the Senate.

As the bill stands now forms would be put on SGA’s Get Involved page where students can detail concerns, which will be sent to the senators every two weeks. The bill was sent to SGA’s internal affairs committee for editing.

“Originally we were just going to do it through the website, it didn’t take you to Get Involved or anything, but basically we didn’t want just anyone to be able to fill it out,” said SGA’s Director of Outreach Bryan Medrano. “The reason we’re doing it through Get Involved is so that students, specifically, have to be able to log into it to fill it out.”

With a new administration inevitably comes changes to SGA’s bylaws, the rules that they must follow within themselves.

One of the 19 changes that passed Wednesday detailed is a retraction of the funds allotted for the International Mother Language Day event that has been held at UH since 2013. SGA has helped fund the event since 2016.

SGA will no longer earmark a $1,000 yearly specifically for International Mother Language Day, rather give themselves flexibility for how the current and future administrations will spend that money in their budget.

New standing rules, were also passed during the meeting.

The rules define when and how long senators can talk, how questioning during meetings work and how senators should handle debates.

The Senate tried to appoint College of Natural Science and Mathematics Sen. Chiamaka Chukwu to the Sustainability Committee but could not because they did not have enough senators present to vote to have the majority needed to appoint her, since she cannot vote on her own appointment. Her appointment was postponed.

Tristain Mathews was able to be appointed to the Hearing Board.

“We’re going to go ahead and postpone the appointment,” said Speaker of the Senate Alexandre Do. “There’s been some unclarity about quorum.”

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