SGO Meeting 11.4.18
The executive board of SGO convened on Sunday, November 4 at 6:45PM in Kohlberg 116. Vice President Kat Capossela ‘21 led the meeting with President Gilbert Orbea ‘19 virtually presiding through a video call.
The meeting began with a discussion of a funding proposal from the Swarthmore Asian Organization (SAO). Kenny Mai ‘21, a board member from SAO, was present to answer any questions about details of the request. The proposal was for a $2000 contribution towards the first annual Tri-College Asian Student Conference to be held at Swarthmore College on April 12-14, 2019. Orbea offered a counterproposal of $1000-$1200 for the time being and the remaining money to be granted closer to the conference date, contingent upon the status of SGO’s budget. Mai accepted this counteroffer, and a conference grant for $1200 was unanimously approved.
A board member brought up a second funding proposal for a poetry reading event. The board decided that the proposal would be approved conditionally on whether or not the Student Budget Committee (SBC) is able to fully fund that event.
The next item on the executive board agenda was the impending launch of a school-wide newsletter. Capossela stressed the importance of this newsletter as a way to allow transparency and keep SGO accountable. The newsletter will be a one-page monthly report on the progress of each committee on their respective initiatives. Orbea expressed the need for a longer, more detailed report for those who would want more information about the status of the organization and its subcommittees. The newsletter will be drafted in the upcoming week.
Capossela then requested a brief update from each committee chair. At 7:20PM, members of the Senate started to arrive. The summary of committee updates was cut short with the Arts Committee at 7:30PM in favor of starting the longer meeting on time.
SGO website manager, Douglas Campbell ‘20, was present to receive feedback on the new website (sgo.sccs.swarthmore.edu) that will serve as the new central source for information on SGO. A concern was raised regarding the old website (sgo.swarthmore.edu), which is no longer reachable, but is still linked to by the school website. Efforts will be made to update any similar links to the newly designed website.
Next on the agenda was to vote on several amendments regarding SBC. The first amendment addressed the selection process of the SBC Chair. The amendment would require selection by an ad-hoc committee with the following members: the outgoing chairperson, chairs emeritus, outgoing SGO president, and two Office of Student Engagement (OSE) officials (who must be outnumbered by the students). A similar amendment was proposed for the selection of the voting members of the SBC. Previously, the Appointments Committee selected the members of the SBC. This change would also require an ad-hoc committee. Both amendments to the constitution passed with 1 abstention from each vote.
Capossela then brought up an ongoing concern about disagreements between SGO and SBC and how to best address them. She proposed seeking out OSE to serve as an official bridge between the two groups. Questions were raised about how much power the OSE has to make sure SBC or SGO actually obeys what they are told to do. Orbea responded that OSE has the authority to tell uncooperative leadership to step down from their positions. The discussion ended with Capossela deciding to come back to the topic again in the next meeting.
Orbea reintroduced a proposal for SGO to change SBC’s bylaws to require flexible timeframes for student organizations during the Spring Budgeting season. The change would allow organizations more time or less time to present, depending on the need. Capossela called to table the discussion until SBC reaches out to formally address this topic.
The discussion was diverted to a recent request from SBC to raise the threshold at which their funding requests must be overseen by SGO. All requests to SBC for money totaling to 1% of the total budget for the year must also pass through SGO. The conversation went back and forth between arguments for lowering the threshold to 0.5% and keeping it at 1%. It was noted that the threshold must be limited so that more budget proposals can be seen by SGO before being approved. There were mentions of past embezzlements of money from SBC which should be taken into account when figuring out how to change the funding threshold.
Akshay Srinivasan ‘21 stated the importance of having a check on SBC. He went on to suggest a system in which every budget proposal from SBC could be distributed to SGO before the weekly general meeting. Every SGO member could then, under SBC bylaws, make an appeal of any of the budget decisions made. He clarified that the intent was not to impede SBC’s functioning, but instead to make it possible for any SGO members to read the budget proposals should they want to. The discussion came to a close as there were conflicting opinions on the lack of transparency and the tense relations between SGO and SBC.
For the remainder of the meeting, each committee provided a summary of their latest initiatives and progress:
Diversity & Inclusion: They will be releasing their own weekly classified report on a newly created Facebook page. Future meetings have been planned with Dean Shà Duncan-Smith and Dean Jim Terhune. They are also planning to meet with Michael Krone, the president of the General Assembly at the University of Pennsylvania. They are starting a conversation with the fraternities and Organizing For Survivors (O4S).
Student Life: They are currently focusing on the alcohol and drinking game policies and meeting with Dean Terhune to discuss them. Meeting with Andrew Barclay from the OSE to start livening up the dorm’s social spaces.
Arts: Current initiatives include an arts map for points of interest on campus (the radio room, recording rooms, pianos, etc.), a central source for arts events, a collection of write ups for sculptures around campus, and presence on social media. Also working on getting WSRNFM to be played in public spaces on campus like Shane Lounge and Essie Mae’s.
Remaining committee reports and agenda meeting items are omitted from this article since they occurred past the time Voices could be present.