DePaul SGA held a general body meeting Sept. 17, during which members met with Vice President of the Office of Public Relations and Communications Cindy Lawson, questioned the university’s stance on Dean Gerald Koocher, made several constitutional revisions and detailed upcoming events.
Cindy Lawson, Vice President of DePaul’s Office of Public Relations and Communications (OPRC), spoke to the group about the duties of OPRC. In general, they handle issues concerning public relations and image management for the university, including photography, videography, DPU Alerts, crisis communication and social media, among others. The office also provides research for the more than 300 yearly speeches given by The Rev. H. Dennis Holtschneider, president of DePaul. Lawson did stress, however, that the president handles commencement and convocation speeches entirely on his own.
Hoffman Report and Dean Koocher: During an open question forum immediately following the talk, Senator for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Nick Albano pressed Lawson on how the office is handling the Hoffman Report controversy revolving around College of Science and Health Dean Gerald Koocher. Lawson responded by asking if anyone in the room had in fact read the 500-page report.
“Hindsight is always great. How many of you watch football? How many of you watch basketball? Do you ever, after you watch it, the reruns, say, ‘They should have. They could have, had they done this,’” Lawson said. “But you make the decisions based on the information that you have at the time. And so if you don’t have the information, you make decisions based upon the information that you’ve got. Have you ever made a decision where you found out later, if you had additional information, you might have decided to do something different? And I think that’s what Dean Koocher would tell you.”
She concluded by suggesting that everyone read the conclusion of the report before forming their opinions on the matter.
Anam Merchant was appointed as Graphic Coordinator by a unanimous vote with one abstention. “I want to get involved on campus in a more meaningful way,” Merchant said.
Parliamentarian David Meunier detailed a list of rules regarding parliamentarian procedure.
Below is a list of revisions to the SGA constitution that the board voted on during the Sept. 17 meeting.
The addition of the word “staff” to a line in the preamble regarding SGA cooperation with different facets of the community was approved unanimously.
“Personal identity” wording: A change was proposed to broaden the nondiscrimation policy in Section IV, adding the phrase “any other personal identity” to a list of other identities that may not be discriminated against.
Senator for Sustainability Sarah Levesque proposed a friendly amendment to alter the syntax of the phrase. “Perhaps (the wording could be changed to) etc.?” Levesque said. “Personal identity seems like it might be for anything.”
Senator for Commuter Students Benjamin Cohen added that he would like a clause barring certain identities from joining, such as sex offenders. “We don’t want wife beaters,” he said.
Neither were accepted, and Cadavillo urged the group to take the amendment process seriously.
The amendment was approved by a vote of 20 to 2.
Event attendance: A change to the wording of the explanation of duties that would require members of the general body to commit to three SGA events per quarter for at least 30 minutes was proposed. The change applies to every position and will be enforced via signup sheet.
Meeting attendance: A friendly amendment was proposed by LAS Senator Albano, requiring Vice President Richard Popp to oversee member attendance. “I saw personal politics get in the way of SGA politics last year,” Albano said. “There should be a safety net in the constitution.” This amendment was accepted.
Senator for Community and Government Relations Bobby Robaina made a friendly amendment asking that the group’s faculty advisor be in charge of attendance, rather than Popp. This was denied by Cadavillo on the basis that the advisor already has a full-time teaching load.
The change was approved by a vote of 21 to 1.
Albano’s friendly amendment was approved by a vote of 17 to 2, with three abstentions.
A change from the attendance policy to include other special circumstances besides family emergencies and illnesses, the validity of which to be determined at the discretion of president and vice president, was approved by a vote of 21 to 1.
Class conflicts: A measure was proposed changing the wording of Section IX 4g from, “If an executive branch member or senator anticipates an unavoidable class conflict, they must meet with the president and the vice president no more than two weeks after class enrollment opens for the upcoming academic term” to, “If an executive branch member or senator anticipates an unavoidable recurring conflict resulting in three or more unexcused absences, they must step down from their position.”
Senator for Graduate Students Chris Witting voiced his opposition to the measure immediately, stating that it discriminated against the limited class schedules of graduate students. Grad students have mostly night classes Monday through Thursday, he argued, and it was unfair to expect them to potentially sacrifice 25 percent of available class time.
Albano brought up an incident that occurred several years ago, in which a member was expelled from SGA on the question of whether or not her absence due to religious holidays was excused. While both Cadavillo and Popp maintained that they would always allow religious holidays to be an excused reason of absence, several members were uncomfortable with the vague wording.
The change was initially passed by a vote of 12 to 8, with two abstentions. However, Witting objected this, stating that an amendment change requires a super majority, which is 2/3 of the total vote. After a brief fact-checking session with Parliamentarian Meunier, Cadavillo acknowledged that the vote did indeed require a super majority to pass, and thus the amendment was not approved.
Board members: A change requiring the appointment of the Chairperson of the Elections Operations Board by the first meeting of the year was approved, with 21 approvals and one abstention.
A change requiring the appointment of the Elections Operations Board by second meeting of the academic year was approved unanimously.
A change preventing the appointment of board members during the summer quarter was approved unanimously.
A change stating that the judicial board chair (parliamentarian) shall announce judicial board changes during meetings was approved unanimously.
Budget: A change requiring the budget to be approved quarterly rather than yearly was approved unanimously.
Voting: An entirely new article regarding voting was proposed as well. Section 1 of this article involves the procedure of General Body voting. In an effort to combat potential “trigger warnings,” all agenda items requiring a General Body vote will be voted upon prior to discussion before the actual vote pertaining to the agenda item is conducted.
Do to the sheer amount of confusion and friendly amendments proposed during discussion, the vote was tabled until next week’s meeting by a vote of 21 to 1.
Section two involves affirmative votes, and the definitions regarding different voting thresholds. It was unanimously approved.
Things to note:
Campus improvements: Regarding the 11th floor cafeteria renovation, Cadavillo detailed some of the suggestions SGA made – including more Blue Demon imagery, adding charging stations and Big Shoulders coffee, to name a few.
Additional solar charging panels are forthcoming – four in the quad and two in the loop.
More cameras were added or fixed to both the Lincoln Park and Loop campus in an effort to combat crime.
Scholarships: Treasurer Damian Wille is working on improving scholarship opportunities for international students as well as aggregating scholarship deadlines for regular students.
U-Passes: Senators would like their constituents to know that students are only permitted to only use their own Ventra passes. It is against the law to use another person’s pass and violators will have their own passes revoked without refund. Currently, CTA officials are undertaking random checks at the Fullerton stop.
Parental notifications: From now on, parents will be notified at the time of incidence when students living in residence halls are transported to the hospital via ambulance.
Events: There will be two safety fairs held in the upcoming month. The first will be in the Student Center Atrium in the Lincoln Park campus from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 21, and the second will be at the same time at the Loop campus’ North Café on Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Vinny Fest will be held in the Lincoln Park campus quad from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sept. 24.
Mix ‘n’ Mingle will be held in the Student Center Atrium at 11 a.m. on Sept. 29.
Student leader round tables will take place in the Student Center from 4 to 5 p.m. on Sept. 30.