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SGA delays support for SFAC recommendations, introduces bill to replace McDonalds, Starbucks

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

During Wednesday’s senate meeting, The Student Government Association Senate decided to table the vote of confidence in support of the Student Fee Advisory Committee’s recent recommendations. 

The decision was made after senators pointed out that the recommendations made by SFAC have not been approved by University President Renu Khator. 

Despite the committee’s release of their tentative recommendations, the senate opted to delay the vote of confidence, citing the need for more time to scrutinize the financial details.

“We can’t see the entire content of what SFAC approved,” said Sen. Risa Lizcano. “I want to look at the numbers before I vote.”

The SFAC recommendations were posted to the SFAC website prior to the meeting and members of SFAC encouraged senators to personally meet with them to review the full text. 

“The recommendations have been out for a while for the senators to review prior to the meeting, but I’m not putting anyone at fault. I can understand that senators are students too and need more time,” said SFAC chair Yusuf Kadi. 

SFAC completed their recommendations for the 2025 fiscal year in late November. Since then, committee members have expressed apprehensions regarding the University’s response, or the absence thereof. Senate representatives hope that the Vote of Confidence in SFAC Fiscal Year 2025 Recommendations and Student Government Solidarity with SFAC resolution will motivate Khator to consider their requests.

“I feel disappointed with their decision because the more support we have behind us the better,” said SFAC member Jesus Nieto. “The senators elected us to be in the position, so I would hope that they trust our recommendations.”

Later in the meeting, the Senate passed the Further Election Code Revisions Act prior to the upcoming election season. 

In large, the act will reduce the campaign period from four weeks to three weeks, place limits on spending for independent candidates and political parties and implement an automatic runoff.

“We reverted to a ranked-choice system, so an automatic runoff will align with the system because it doesn’t require additional campaigning,” said Sen. Anahi Ortega. 

The Senate was also presented with a bill that proposes the establishment of a Palestine Rights and Liberation Action Committee.

The bill states that SGA stands in solidarity with student voices advocating for a ceasefire and an end to the genocide of Palestinian people. It also urges UH leadership to explore avenues for removing Starbucks and McDonald’s from on-campus operations, due to their ongoing support for Israel. 

“Many students have already been boycotting McDonalds and Starbucks,” said President Benjamin Rizk. “With this bill we will be showing our support to the university in finding new vendors to take their place.”

The Supporting the A.D. Bruce Religion Center Wudu Renovation Feasibility Study resolution was also introduced.

Wudu stations provide the necessary facilities for Muslims to perform traditional purification rituals before prayers. In October, the senate approved a resolution to form a task force aimed at strategizing the placement of Wudu stations across campus. 

However, this initiative faced a setback when the University invoked Article 1, Section 7 of the Texas Constitution, which prohibits the use of public funds or property for religious purposes.

“When the first resolution was passed, we had countless conversations with facilities and they constantly sent us back to the religion center,” Director of Multicultural Affairs Mohammad Tabbara said. “We understand that students are not generally happy with this compromise, but at least we are taking steps towards a destination.”

The new resolution supports the A.D. Bruce Religion Center’s request for a feasibility study to install such facilities because they are not funded through state-allocated dollars. Additionally, given the urgent need for renovations at the center to accommodate prayer needs, SGA encourages SFAC to approve funding for the construction of Wudu stations.

Another resolution, Supporting All-Halal Protein Food Options in the Student Center, was read to the senate.

It expresses support for the addition of all-halal protein choices in Asado Burritos and Bowls. Furthermore, it urges Chartwells to explore the possibility of introducing restaurant concepts focused on halal, vegan, or kosher options in the RAD center. Additionally, the resolution calls for student input to be solicited through the Food Service Advisory Committee regarding specific food items to be promoted.

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