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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Budget bill approved, students appointed to committees at most recent SGA meeting

Juana Garcia/ The Cougar

For the first time in three years, the Student Government Association has passed its annual  budget bill on time. 

Aside from the Budget Bill, last Wednesday’s SGA meeting was predominantly focused on appointing new members to SGA committees. Nine new members were appointed with more to come, as Rizk has called for a special session on Sept. 13, where the agenda is focused on the appointments. 

The budget, which has been lowered compared to previous years, allocates $154,187 to SGA. The majority of the money is allocated towards funding the salaries of paid positions within SGA. 

“Getting the budget passed on time was really important because it hasn’t been done in some time,” SGA President Benjamin Rizk said. “I also made this bill very detailed compared to ones in the past because I felt they were lacking.”

Previously a senate member, Cessabella Astraquillo is now taking on a greater role within SGA as she was appointed chief election commissioner. 

“I’m so excited to hold a new position within SGA, especially because there is so much more to learn and experience,” Astraquillo said. “There were a lot of issues with the last election, so my focus is to have the candidates have all their information posted online, because the more informed the student, the better their choice will be.”

Another notable appointment was that of Jesus Nieto. Nieto was previously Student Body President at the University of Houston Downtown for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. Now, a graduate student at UH, he is continuing his involvement in student government as an  appointee to the Student Fees Advisory Committee. 

“I am a student advocate first and foremost so I believe in empowering students in whatever position I am in,” Nieto said. “I’m ready to face the challenges that arise in the committee, especially because of my past experience.”

The candidates for the positions on the committees are open to everyone, including members of the Senate. Many senators decided to take on the extra role as Sen. Anahi Ortega and Sen. Yusuf Kadi were appointed to the Student Fees Advisory Committee.

With a close vote from the Senate of 14-11, Jared Lewis was appointed to the Campus Facilities and Construction Committee and the Cougar Card Advisory Committee. Previously chief of staff for the current administration, Lewis expressed his readiness to work with SGA once again.

“I’ve been working with SGA since February, building a vision for the University where students’ voices can be heard and they can affect campus,” Lewis said. “I take the role of gathering feedback seriously, and I want the University to listen.”

Additionally, Salik Faisal was appointed to the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee, Pavan Kureti was appointed to the Health Policy Center Board, Adefemi Abimbola was appointed to the Student Housing & Residential Life Advisory Committee and Matthew Lopez and Mathanee Perez-Ortiz were appointed to the Activities Funding Board.

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