Student Government Inc. Holds Second Meeting

Derrell J. Bouknight, News Editor

In its second assembly meeting of the semester, Student Government Inc. invited members of the University community to the D’Angelo Center to offer their thoughts on events and to use the two-hour period as a time to share ideas on ways to improve campus life.

The meeting, led by SGI president Atemkeng Tazi and  other members of the executive board, focused primarily on news from several cultural organizations around the university and provided insight into upcoming events that are in the works.

Kevin James, an assistant dean in the College of Professional Studies, delivered a brief presentation on “Pitch Johnny,” a competition that allows students to craft and present an innovative entrepreneurial idea to a group of industry professionals. Participants will receive feedback and can win a cash prize of up to $1,000. The deadline is this Friday.

After James spoke and following financial updates from the budget committee, members discussed an initiative from Oxfam Hunger Banquet, a nationwide, volunteer-led group that focuses on raising awareness of hunger and food insecurity.

Katie Sheldon, a member of SGI, said during the meeting that Oxfam reached out via email with an idea to collaborate on a project.

Oxfam goes to events and has participating members pick a card out of a basket. Each card represents either low, middle or upper class status. The meals that participants eat are based on the card they draw.

“It’s very enlightening to see how you would live or how you would eat for just one meal based on your economic status,” Sheldon said. “We discussed how we’re going to incorporate this next semester and get everyone involved.”

Sheldon also said that there will also be a food pantry coming to the school in the near future, and that preparations have started to begin running it.

Moments later, Tazi spoke on the issue of food insecurity at the university. Dr. Kathryn Hutchinson, the school’s vice president for Student Affairs, said during an advisory meeting that there are ways that students who struggle to provide food for themselves can seek help.

“The university does have some services reserved for students who are going through trials and tribulations,” Tazi said. “They have particular services within departments, whether it’s with health, food insecurity or housing. The school can give you subsidized services for a particular amount of time.”

According to Tazi, the issue that often arises is how students misclassify a food insecurity by using money they receive to buy prescription medicine or other items, leaving them with little money to feed themselves. The school, she said, can accommodate students by offering them a “copay” instead of paying market price for food and personal items.

“If you know anybody that is going through anything, please let us know,” Tazi said. “We now have the ability to report that upward and get that person the help that they need.”

One student said that the program can be found on the first floor on the right side of Newman Hall. Its location is set to where students can walk in without fear of shame or embarrassment.

Another student also mentioned Campus Ministry, saying that they are a good resource with knowledge of other programs and ways to help.

Before the meeting ended, Torrent Cannon, the chair of Student Services, addressed some of the concerns students have recently brought to his attention, including server connections with WEPA printing stations across campus and gym hours being expanded.

Cannon said that facilities complaints that included concerns about mold had been handled for the most part, and that expanded parking for townhouse residents would be brought to the attention of Public Safety within the coming days.

Seniors James Wheatley and Ally Villa were voted in as representatives for St. John’s College and the College of Professional Studies, respectively.

“There are things I love about St. John’s and things I don’t love about St. John’s,” Wheatley said when speaking of his college experience. “I thought that joining SGI would really help in turning the page.”

Monday’s meeting was the final public gathering before this Thursday’s Common Hour Social, a chance for the student body to meet and network with members of SGI.

It will take place in room 215 in the D’Angelo Center at 1:45 p.m.