Members of PIRG discuss their initiatives with SGA during Thursday’s general body meeting

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Eric Henry

Students walk on the Quad, located on the Lincoln Park campus.

Dilpreet Kaur and Jolie Hackney from DePaul’s Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) joined the Student Government Association (SGA) during its general body meeting on Thursday to discuss some of their initiatives and ways the two organizations can work together.

Kaur said PIRG, in its first year at DePaul, is working on four different campaigns involving a new voter project, textbook affordability, combating hunger and homelessness and a 100 percent sustainability campaign. 

Looking forward to future elections, Kaur explained that PIRG is focusing on encouraging students to pay attention to local and state politics and that the group is working to get a polling place set up on campus. 

As part of PIRG’s textbook affordability campaign, Kaur said the group is focused on problems with the high cost of textbooks and issues with the Pell Grant’s functioning capacity.  

 Regarding PIRG’s sustainability campaign, Hackney said the organization is advocating for 100 percent renewable energy use, pushing for Gov. J.B. Pritzker to sign a bill that would move Illinois towards renewable energy. 

 Undocumented Student Support Committee Update 

Robbie Merkel, SGA’s executive vice president of diversity and equity and co-chair of the Undocumented Student Support Committee, went over the committee’s most recent report discussing the work it has done this past quarter.  

According to the report, SGA President Alyssa Isberto, co-chair of the committee, discussed a plan to advocate for President Joe Biden’s immigration bill which would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented individuals by contacting members of Congress asking them to support the bill. 

USS Committee March 2020 Report by DePaulia on Scribd

 In addition, committee members met with Rebeca Hernandez from the Admissions Office to learn what the office is doing to help “make admissions more transparent and navigable for undocumented students,” according to Merkel.  

 Merkel also spoke with Hernadez regarding the Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act, which would make previously ineligible undocumented students eligible to apply for state financial aid, as well as other resources available including the Office of Multicultural Student Success, Mission and Ministry and the Center for Disabled Students. 

Vaccine Campaign Rollout 

Merkel explained a plan to encourage members of the DePaul community to get vaccinated. The process would involve a series of posts to SGA’s social media accounts. 

According to Merkel, the first round of posts would focus on facts regarding the vaccine’s efficacy. The second round would involve students that received the Covid-19 vaccine, discussing why they got the shot along with having digital badges for faculty and staff to display indicating they received the vaccine. 

 The third round of posts would center around education regarding the disparities in the vaccine distribution among communities of color. 

Constitutional Revisions 

Two revisions to SGA’s constitution failed to pass. The first involved adding a section to the constitution under internal elections that would allow SGA members to discuss the qualification of candidates running for a position on SGA in a closed session after all candidates have been asked questions.  

The second revision would have allowed any DePaul student that attended at least three consecutive general body meetings to participate in SGA’s closed discussions, but they wouldn’t be allowed to vote. 

President’s Report 

During this week’s president’s report, Isberto discussed that the university will not take up the Pass/D/Fail grading policy from previous quarters but that the provosts and the deans of DePaul’s colleges have agreed to extend the deadline to finish incomplete grades to the end of spring quarter, June 18.  

Vice President’s Report 

During her report, SGA Vice President Watfae Zayed said SGA’s senators will present the work they have completed this past quarter during this week’s upcoming general body meeting, the last one of the quarter.