SGA Meeting Features Provost, Addresses BAC And Financial Aid Issues

Emily Wolfrum, Editor-in-Chief

Student Government Association (SGA) held its weekly senate meeting on March 27 in Gottesman.

Provost Uday Sukhatme was present to answer questions and address student concerns.

Sukhatme addressed administrative precautions that were being taken to prevent widespread course cancellations, such as those that occurred in Dyson, in the future.

According to the provost, deans will be looking more carefully at the classes being offered next semester in order to limit classes that are not likely to fill.

Further, deans will be assessing the progression of registration for classes in order to better understand which classes are more popular than others.

Sukhatme acknowledge one “peculiarity” in student surveys. A freshman survey revealed that students were spending an average of only six to eight hours per week studying. This statistic was far lower than the average for other universities.

“Pace is not a party school, where people are goofing off,” Sukhatme said. “For every credit hour that a student is taking, he or she should be doing two to three hours of outside work each week.”

He further urged students to take advantage of Degree Works, a self-auditing system, in order to stay on track with courses.

Currently, not all majors are available through Degree Works, and Sukhatme is uncertain if discontinued majors will be added to the site.

Additional questions for Sukhatme were identified during open discussions, namely in relation to the budget cuts that prompted course cancellations and how and why the class minimums were developed.

SGA President John Wrench planned to follow-up with the provost with these concerns, and to schedule and restructure future meetings with him.

Vice President of Unity and Social Justice Rachel Aviles announced that this year’s Tunnel of Oppression event has been cancelled due to low participation.

Vice President of Administration Edwin Rodriguez and Senator Sara Voorhees presented on their meeting with congresswoman Nita Lowey regarding federal budget cuts to higher education.

The House of Representatives passed its budget on March 25, freezing the maximum student Pell Grant award amount and limiting deferral of student loan interest payments.

Rodriguez and Voorhees emphasized the effects that the budget will have on current students receiving financial aid and encouraged students to reach out to elected officials to express their discontent.

Lambda Upsilon Lambda (LUL) presented an updated budget proposal after senate failed to approve their more-than $3000 request.

According to the Budget Allocation Committee (BAC) guidelines, if a budget request exceeds $3000, it must also be approved at senate.

LUL’s budget request was reviewed by the National Organization for Latin Fraternal Organizations (NALFO), Student Development and Campus Activities (SDCA), and BAC in October 2014.

The request came under scrutiny during the senate meeting on March 20 due to its inclusion of customized LUL centerpieces for the fraternity’s annual gala.

Questions arose regarding the five-month delay in senate proposal and lack of questioning earlier in the approval process.

The delay, according to present LUL fraternity brothers, prevented them from being able to order their customized centerpieces, which required advanced notice to order. Their revised budget proposal reduced their total below $3000, therefore lacking approval by senate.

Changes to the BAC guidelines and SGA Constitution are being made to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Organizations were advised to request decorations and materials that can be utilized by all organizations in order to avert overspending.

Students were also encouraged to vote for SGA elections taking place next week March 30 through April 3. Stations will be in all residence halls, Miller, and Kessel.

Candidates will be elected for both the executive board and school representative positions. Students may only vote for the school representatives running within their academic college.