SGA looks to a packed spring agenda

The first meeting of the spring semester saw the Student Government Association discussing student petitions, club fairs, and Casino Night on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

The next big project the SGA will undertake will begin within the next few weeks.  The Vermont State College Student Association has started a petition to drop the interest rate of federal student loans to 1 percent.

The petition was first proposed by Castleton State College in November. The SGA received the link to the petition’s website from Castleton President David S. Wolk the week before the holiday break, and decided to wait until the new semester to begin promoting it to the JSC community.

The SGA will begin lobbying for the petition in the Stearns entrance area. Flyers have also been produced and will be given out at the same time. These flyers contain a QR code that, when scanned, will link to the petition’s website.

“Johnson is going to do their part for the VSCSA,” said SGA President Nasser Abdel-Fatah.

Another order of business was the organization of another club fair. Placement of this fair was discussed, including using the 24-hour room in Stearns or the Stearns Performance Space.

“We want to grab the freshmen,” said Abdel-Fatah.

One other idea relating to clubs was the creation of a new handbook for each club that could be passed down by club officers to other members of the group. However, the SGA was skeptical that anyone would actually sit down and read such a book.

The meeting also focused on preparations for Casino Night in March. This year’s theme will be “The Great Gatsby,” inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 film. Abdel-Fatah outlined the plan and explained what was expected of each SGA member.

Every SGA senator will choose a local town to visit and ask businesses for donations. Posters have also been created that will be distributed at these businesses to raise awareness of the event. Faculty and staff also need to be recruited and trained to become dealers for the night.

New senator projects were also discussed.

“Let’s get stuff done! Anyone who doesn’t have a project, find one! Something can always be done on campus,” said Abdel-Fatah.

SGA senator Brittney McCarthy proposed the placement of skateboard storage racks around campus.

“I thought that might be a cool addition to campus,” said McCarthy.

Other project ideas included a new closet for Dance Club costumes and the creation of a bocce ball or horseshoe pit.

Funding for these projects will be deducted from the SGA’s allotted “Senator Projects” budget.  This budget is set at the beginning of every year by the SGA president and is approved by the Senate. At the start of last semester, the budget was set at $9,000.

“The $9,000 is set in hopes of spending money to make things better on campus,” said Abdel-Fatah. “Whenever we can save though, we do.”

For example, in order to fund a plan for the restoration of the frolf course, money was split three ways. The SGA, the dean of students office, and SHAPE all pitched in $500.

The other big expense last semester was the snowboard park, the total cost of which is still being worked out. With the park, the total project budget is currently estimated to be in the high $7,000 dollar range. This money can also be shifted between budget categories. Some of the money, for example, may be moved into club funds as clubs take a focus this semester.

Some minor improvements to the campus and community have not needed much funding, such as the upkeep of the Badger Board and the placement of one new cigarette disposal unit, which the college had as an extra.

“Our senate has been very wise in how they spend money,” said Abdel-Fatah.  “They think long and hard, and I trust their judgment.”

The meeting also included a discussion of some community news: Johnson State’s Model United Nations will be heading to Boston for the Harvard National Model United Nations in February, where they will be representing Lithuania. Students will be taking a bus down to Massachusetts, and will soon be submitting the cost of the trip to the SGA.

The only other order of business featured guest Colin Santee, President of the Vermont State College Student Association, acting as the liaison to the town of Johnson.

“We really want to encourage JSC participation in the community,” said Santee, as he urged the SGA to begin searching for projects that would benefit both the town and the school.

The Jan. 29 meeting continued discussions of club fairs, Casino Night, and senate projects .

The upcoming club fair is in the process of creation, as requested by several club officers in the JSC community.

The fair is now planned for Monday, Feb. 10, in the top floor of Stearns. It is scheduled to start at 4:30  p.m. and will last for approximately an hour and a half.

Meanwhile, preparations for Casino Night have moved forward. An appropriate number of cups and glasses has been secured, and the next step is to obtain and train faculty members to become dealers for the night.

A proposal to write up an overview email that would be sent out to all members of the JSC faculty was brought up, a move the Senate agreed would maximize efficiency.

The next order of Casino Night business saw senators deciding which towns they could visit for donations.

Abdel-Fatah volunteered to visit Waterbury and Stowe, and left the list of towns for SGA senators to choose from.

Colin Santee spoke on behalf of the JSC Model U.N., requesting travel expenses for the club’s upcoming trip to Boston to represent Lithuania at the Harvard National Model United Nations.

“We have seven students going down there,” said Santee. “We are just asking to cover the travel expenses.”

Expenses will add up to $245, which includes bus fair, some private parking spaces for student’s vehicles, and pins of Lithuania’s flag.

Sub-committees of the SGA did not meet last week due to a lack of scheduled times. These times were created and debated after the close of the meeting.

Luke Peduzzi, SGA senator and Ski and Snowboard Club treasurer, announced further plans to repair and resurface some of the clubs equipment.

Reporting on her progress since the last meeting, McCarthy said she began her search into the placement of skateboard racks on campus, and discovered both a free-standing rack and a wall-mounted rack for $100 on up.

The Rules and Regulations Committee decided to meet as soon as possible to discuss editing the by-laws relating to the President Pro-Tempe’s position.