Zach Petroff | Opinions Editor
Sept. 15, 2022
The Student Government Association (SGA) has bold plans and now, with a blueprint of success, they are looking to capitalize on their momentum from last year’s accomplishments — namely giving students and faculty members some much-needed financial flexibility and options with transportation services.
While the number of students involved with SGA is clearly down from the pre-Covid 19 sessions, the 51st senate is undeterred in their mission of enhancing the experience of the student body any way they can.
The 48-minute meeting on Sept. 11 covered a range of topics covering a plethora of student organizations in an attempt to encompass the various walks of life that are at Duquesne University.
Whether it’s sweeping changes for campus rules, modifying the food served in the dining facilities or simply changing the name of a club or organization, the student-held session functions as a representative body, a collective voice for students to help maintain and elevate all groups and people on campus.
On Sunday, the 51st senate held its fourth session (second of the semester) in the newly named Thomas R. Kline School of Law.
Students were greeted with a welcoming sound of popular music playing throughout the lecture hall as they looked for a place to sit and wait for the session to begin.
SGA President Jessica Schmitz stood in front of the room, greeting students as they made their way in.
Freshmen Liam O’Mahony and Benjamin Wu, first-time participants, were eager to join a club that is active and “felt like a four-year kind of thing.”
“[SGA] is definitely important, and it is something that I would like to continue to be part of,” O’Mahony said.
Wu nominated himself for the finance committee chair position.
The session opened with a prayer led by Schmitz. Then, the floor was given to spiritual and facility advisor, Linda Donovan, who gave a recap of the week’s spiritual led events, such as the placing of flags on College Hall and a drum circle.
Donovan then gave a preview of activities and lectures that were taking place on campus in the upcoming week.
She ended her time on the floor with a prayer for peace.
The next to take the floor were the executive board members. Ethan Delp, the Vice President of Communications, looked for members to volunteer to take the 9/11 tribute flags down and clarified various clerical information for SGA members.
Vice President of Academic Affairs Gram Hepner, discussed the formation of an ad hoc committee to determine the recipient of the SGA scholarship.
The SGA scholarship is available to all students who attend Duquesne and is determined based on need, scholarship, leadership and university involvement. Applicants must have their form and essay completed by the end of the day on Sept. 21.
The Vice President of Finance Claudio Simione went over a brief budget overview that would be voted on and confirmed later in the session.
The SGA’s budget is more than $10,000 lower than last year, due to the contribution to the Southside shuttle and the transportation endeavors, for a total of $22,040.
Vice President of Student Life Nathan Gierczynski, spoke about the changes made in Hogan regarding the allergy section and the return of a rotating pasta bar.
Gierczynski talked about the new kiosk services around campus and the set up of an eventual SGA-sponsored Q&A session where students can have a direct line of communication to voice their concerns and suggestions.
President Schmitz would finish off the executive committee board reports by commenting on the SGA’s continued work on the outside shuttle, the various continuation of councils and committees (such as the diversity inclusion identity council), further events that will be taking place and the re-introduction of the residence life agenda to amend the sign-in policy to make it “a little bit more student-friendly.”
The residence life issue, including the sign-in policy, the condition of certain residence halls and the non-existent consideration for non-binary or trans students in any of the residence halls, seems to be the flagship piece of agenda that SGA is looking to take on this academic year.
“We’re just trying to find a way to keep that balance of not isolating those students, not isolating students from each other, but also trying to keep in line with the Catholic mission as the priest sees fit,” Schmitz said.
After the conclusion of the executive committee boards reports, the senate’s various committees would gave their reports, setting future meetings and plans. It was a meeting to set up more meetings. The SGA would also welcome three senators through petitions. Braden Niles from the School of Liberal Arts, Ava Lee from the School of Nursing and Daniel Bardin from the Rangos School of Health Sciences were all unanimously voted in by the current members of the senate.
“I want to see SGA bridge the gaps between the Center of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion and the people who are under that branch, including my own Asian Student Association, by coming together with SGA and [to] have a common understanding with each other,” Lee said.
The next SGA meeting is set for Sept. 25 in room 203 of the Thomas R. Kline School of Law. Students can join SGA by simply attending the bi-weekly meetings and contact SGA with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.