SGA approves four Conference & Lodging Requests, responds to student input about race relations, Pilgrimage, and more

Emily Rose Thorne, Staff Writer

Pres. Olivia Buckner opened the meeting by addressing Homecoming. SGA members will maintain a presence at all of the events.

All members will also attend a formal presentation by Mercer One in Four alongside Pres. Underwood on Wednesday at seven p.m.

Vice President Oge Onuh gave her report next.

“Last week during exec, we had a very good discussion regarding the race relations topic,” she said. “It was a long discussion, but it was needed.”

She said that Senators will begin attending certain campus organizations’ meetings in direct response to suggestions that the student body gave during that day’s Outreach project: a whiteboard posted in the Connell Student Center, just as it was the week prior.

However, this time Senators asked what SGA could do to help alleviate student concerns about race relations.

Campus Outreach Committee Chair Sen. Shruthi Vikraman said that “we had a lot of people actually write” on the whiteboard this time.

“A lot of people are having trouble with communication about race relations, and they are hoping that SGA can foster dialogue [and start to] increase awareness about what’s going on,” she said.

Some student responses included desire to have SGA members attend certain organizations’ meetings.

The Student Life and Organization Affairs Committee will send out a form to all campus organization presidents and see which ones are interested in having SGA representatives attend an upcoming meeting.

SLOA Chair Michael Smith said that the President’s Round Table, an event celebrating all campus organization Presidents, will take place on November 29 from 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm and be “[tailored to] the theme of race relations on campus.”

He also spoke to the Outreach expectation for Senators to attend upcoming clubs’ meetings. He said that SLOA will be the middleman between interested organizations and SGA and will send out a form to organization Presidents to ensure that every organization that wants SGA representation can get it while not imposing upon those who do not.

Pres. Buckner said that “we are going to extend the offer to student organizations, and whoever responds to that ‘we love that, we would encourage that,’” is where SGA Senators will go.

She said that SGA will not be sent to “organizations that don’t want us or need us.”

Some Senators were unsure what role they would play when attending meetings. Pres. Buckner suggested adding a question to the survey to ask organizations exactly what they want from SGA members attending their meetings.

“We were elected to be Senators, it’s up to you how well you want to do your job,” said Vice President Onuh. “The students selected you guys.”

During Gallery Reports, the Inter-Fraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council, and the National Pan-Hellenic Council announced that all Greek organizations will participate in HarvestFest on Wednesday, Oct. 25, from 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm. It will be open to the public and take place on Greek Row.

Pres. Buckner then gave a report from sex-trafficking prevention group Traffick Jam. “We are participating in many events with them,” she said.

She explained that many people don’t know that Macon sits “on a crossroads regarding highways,” making it a prime location for sex trafficking to occur.

Fiscal Affairs Chair Sen. Adam Penland announced four Conference & Lodging Requests.

Sen. Ashila Jiwani represented the first, the American Mock World Health Organization.

She said it is “an annual conference that is modeled after the World Health Organization Health Assembly. This is the fourth year they have been doing this, this is the fourth year that Mercer has been attending as a group.”

She asked for funding to reimburse the attendees’ hotel rooms and event registration fees, which members’ dues did not completely cover.

The vote to approve their $1,676.93 request was unanimous aside from Sen. Jiwani and Sen. Moody, who abstained.

International Mock Conference Association approached the Senate with two Conference and Lodging Requests. The group plans to attend both the Regional and National Conferences of Model Arab League and requested funding to cover hotel rooms and registration fees.

Club President Catherine Crowe said that Mercer has maintained a presence at the Conference for fourteen to seventeen years.

“We’ve also won every single year, and I think we have a good chance of winning again,” she said.

Requests for funding for both the Regional and National Conferences were approved unanimously.

The final Conference and Lodging Request was for the National Press and Photographers’ Association asking for $985.62 to finish funding the club’s attendance at a seminar. Some hotel and registration fees were already covered by the Center for Collaborative Journalism.

Representative Rose Scoggins said that the club focuses on “different rules and ethics of photojournalism. We look at different photojournalists and the work that they do, and this conference is the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar. It’s one of the best photojournalism seminars in the country.”

She also said that attendees will learn from speakers and have a chance to have their own photography critiqued. She added that “President Obama’s former photographer is actually going to be there this year, so we’re going to get to learn from him.”

The vote was again unanimous.

SGA plans to send out surveys to the student body about campus study space and respond to concerns that students mentioned in a previous survey about the Pilgrimage to Penfield event.