New ideas and old problems at SGA Town Meeting

There was a Student Government Association meeting on Tuesday, Mar. 5 in the Stearns 24-hour study room at 7 pm, led by SGA Vice President Colin Santee. As a parallel to the Town Meeting Day going on in the rest of Vermont, this meeting was meant to gather ideas to propose to JSC’s senators.

There have been talks with an up-and-coming company called Pelletco about exchanging Johnson’s oil heating system for wood-pellet burners.

This update should be cheaper and cleaner burning than the campus’ current heating system, and is part of Pelletco’s drive to gain a foothold in the heating market. There would be no up-front capital expenditure for Johnson State College, as long as the campus pays for the heat on a per-BTU-basis.

If all goes well, Pelletco will send a representative to speak with Barbara Murphy or Sharron Scott.

A Creative Audience event explaining the update was suggested for calling attention to the switch.

This is part of a long-term green-revolving fund meant to make JSC more energy-efficient.

The Vermont River Conservancy, a non-profit land trust, has plans to purchase the land around Journey’s End, a popular swimming hole in the town of Johnson.

If they obtain the rights to this land, it will remain preserved and undeveloped, not to mention open to the public for future swimmers. They will also stock the water with Vermont’s state fish, the freshwater trout.

The funding for this land trust will come out of the SGA’s budget.

In related news, the Lower Pond on Johnson’s campus is fully repaired and naturally filling with rainwater.

Another proposed use for the SGA’s budget was maintaining an outdoor basketball court, which would provide a space for basketball players to play during warmer months.

JSC student and activist Ryan Downs was deeply offended when some graffiti in the men’s room on the second floor of the Willey Library Learning Center displayed homophobic slurs and a personal attack on him. The attack was theorized to originate from one or two isolated individuals.

Downs explained his plans for an LGBT awareness campaign on campus.

From Monday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon, the second and third floors of the Martinetti dorms lost their Internet connection due to a mechanical error.

The issue was caused by a faulty connection—Johnson’s Information Technology staff essentially turned the system off and back on again so it could cool down.

While the problem was dealt with, it raised issues about Johnson’s IT having very poor funding, as well as tepid relations with students. The subject of hiring student assistants in the IT lab was raised.

There was trepidation about next semester’s planned limit on printing in the LLC’s 24-hour computer lab, considering the required amount of hard copies some classes require.

Santee encouraged students to conserve computer paper whenever possible.

There was also discussion about the barrage of redundant and unhelpful alert messages computer-lab consoles display when they are turned on.

Another student mentioned that in some buildings, the new wi-fi signals have extremely low ping, causing major slowdowns.

The group discussed the ongoing debate to lower the minimum GPA qualification for becoming an SGA senator from 2.5 to 2.0. The situation was compared to cabinet positions, which are appointed by JSC staff and have no GPA requirement.

The bylaw that raised that minimum was set a few semesters ago—students with a GPA of 2.0 or lower are under academic probation.

Multiple students have requested that the minimum be lowered, but the bill has been vetoed repeatedly.

To change this bylaw, students would have to vote to alter it, with the usual voter turnout being approximately 300.

Lastly, Johnson’s debate club was brought up. The Debate club is not currently recognized as an official club due to having less than seven members, though an argument was made.

Some of last semester’s student requests include updating the snowboard hill’s jumps, a text message alert system to warn students with cars about incoming snowplows, converting the 4th floor Stearns lounge into a study room, and an ongoing project to provide students a dedicated cup for the café that would allow students discounts for coffee.

The SGA’s meetings are always public to Johnson students—it is not necessary to be a senator to propose ideas.