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Saturday, December 9, 2023


College of Medicine Senate seat established, appointments made at most recent SGA meeting

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

During Wednesday’s Student Government Association Senate meeting, seven students were appointed to the Senate and five were appointed to university committees. 

Prior to Wednesday’s meeting, SGA had 21 vacant seats in the Senate out of the total 48 available seats, resulting in more than 40% of the chamber being unoccupied. Additionally, there were 29 open positions on university committees.

Because of the significant number of vacant positions on both the Senate and University committees, the SGA executive board has prioritized the appointment of new students, said SGA director of outreach Jordan Underwood.

“Students often don’t realize how big of a time commitment SGA can be,” Underwood said. “We have had several people drop out due to the commitment, so it is important that we get students who are dedicated.”

Each college or school within UH is represented in the Senate based on the proportion of students enrolled in the University, according to SGA’s constitution.  Consequently, larger colleges, such as the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, are allocated seven Senate seats, whereas smaller colleges like the College of Law receive one seat.

Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine was founded in 2019 and enrolled its first class of 30 students in 2020. The College is represented by one seat in the Senate due to the low enrollment rate.

Given the college’s recent establishment, the College of Medicine had not been allocated a seat on the Senate. However, this changed during Wednesday’s meeting when D Omenge was appointed.

“This appointment is a big deal because medical postgraduate degrees very rarely ever get filled,” said SGA President Benjamin Rizk. “The College of Optometry hasn’t been filled in eight years, but I’m working on changing that.”

In addition to Omenge’s appointment, six other senators were appointed: Dan O’Connell for Graduate at Large, Jacob Morehouse for the College of Engineering, Yusuf Islam for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, as well as Kamgne Merveville, Sebastian Ballesteros and Sana Ijaz for CLASS.

Five students were appointed to university committees: TaMyria Levy for the Activities Funding Board Hearing Committee, Abdallah Ghoneim for the Health Center Policy Board, Athena Economon for the Food Service Advisory Committee, Esther Gwa for the International Student Advisory Committee and Kirti Mhatre for the Health Center Policy Board.

In contrast to the multiple appointments, two members of the executive board announced their graduation this fall, marking the conclusion of their tenure as Senators.

Chief of staff Tasnuva Haque and director of public relations Gabriel Garcia will graduate after serving on the Executive Board since April 2023. 

“I’ve loved working with SGA and I’m so grateful for the opportunities SGA has given me,” Haque said.

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