At 11 a.m. Thursday, SUUSA gathered for their weekly public meeting to discuss business and meet with students.
SUUSA President Hayden Carroll began the meeting with executive order reports, first discussing the Utah Student Association Board’s event for SUUSA other student governments to lobby for higher education issues and mental health in Salt Lake City.
Vice President of Academics Parker Hess said that MySUU Voice received 77 voices, upping it from last week’s 45. Hess also has been in discussion with the library about extending hours and incorporating student voices into those decisions. The library will be open for finals and the week prior until 2 a.m. However, services will stop at midnight.
HSS Senator Grace Schulz discussed the Shark Tank Event, thanked those who came to it, and updated the Senate on the new MySUU Voice question regarding midterm policies. She also said they are working on bringing a bike sharing system to campus, and are trying to find the optimum locations for that system. Regardless, a trial run will be made.
Vice President of Finance D’Mia Lamar said that the finance committee was in the process of creating a new policy for study abroad students requesting money, lowering the amount but raising the number of students eligible for it. $100 will be given to the first 16 students each semester, down from last year’s $150.
Each senator and representative gave a small update on their current projects throughout the meeting. Notably, International Representative Jessica Mancuso said that after a discussion with international students, a majority “would not like a tobacco-free campus” and that international retention was up from 50 percent to 80 percent.
The Senate then moved into old business, first discussing the study abroad reports. The Study Abroad offices had contacted Schulz to subsidize study abroad trips, asking for $500 for a select number of low-income students based on FAFSA eligibility. However, the Senate discussed that because of Lamar’s new policy on funding study abroad requests, they should not further fund study abroad trips. An informal vote held the majority at not further funding study abroad.
The Senate then moved to election bylaws and discussed whether or not the party system should be voted out of the bylaws. Veterans Representative Keith Mason said that the Senate seemed in agreeance on all bylaws except for the party system. The issue was tabled until the November 30th session, with the stipulation that each senator and representative contact the departments under them and hear opinions on the matter.
The Senate then moved into new business, first meeting with the Black Student Union (BSU). BSU President Sunny Sims first spoke, saying that members of BSU felt there is “tension between SUUSA and Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI)” and clarified why the CDI feels this.
First, Sims said BSU felt discluded from programming, specifically citing Identity Week during Black History month. Sims stated she felt the week competed with the step show and that they did not feel included in the planning for Identity Week.
“Especially, we always feel like our voices aren’t heard here at a predominantly white institution … it’s like we’re being outed by SUU’s or SPB’s events,” Sims said.
She also said certain events may be culturally insensitive, and urged SUUSA and SPB to speak with the CDI before they put on events that may be deemed insensitive, specifically citing the Tropical Taco Tuesday event held earlier this week.
Sims then thanked Upper Division Center Jeremy Osborne for coming regularly to BSU meetings and events.
“I think it’s important that your faces are known,” she said. She then urged representatives to come to meetings and participate, not just to come to meetings because they “feel bad,” but to come to meetings and become an ally.
“If you come to one meeting, I’m going to be honest, it does not make a difference. If you come to our events, things that are actually educational … then that makes a difference,” Sims said.
Ayleen Perry also spoke for BSU, thanking Osborne and stating that she did not feel comfortable approaching members of the Senate, mentioning SUUSA President Hayden Carroll specifically.
“I’m just going to be very blunt … Hayden Carroll, you are probably one of the last people I’d feel comfortable speaking to,” Perry said.
Perry said that students in high positions should be racially sensitive, especially on their social media accounts. Sims agreed as well, saying that the CDI puts on racial sensitivity training and that SUUSA should go through a training.
Both members also stated that parts of Greek life also have racial sensitivity problems, with Perry saying that she has gone to parties where “white kids are saying the ‘n-word’ because it is in a song.”
After a back and forth between SUUSA and BSU, SUUSA said despite efforts to contact the CDI and BSU, attempts have not been successful and further efforts to get into contact were made. Carroll closed the discussion but asked the BSU to come back to further meetings or lobby with them privately, saying this “is a conversation we need to have.”
Further new business included signing up volunteers for the Higher Education Day announced at the beginning of the meeting, and budget distribution of the surplus $7000 the finance committee had. The committee gave $1050 to Senate, $1500 to marketing, $2650 to clubs, $1500 to SPB and $300 to Student Life and Enhancement committee.
Hess stated he $300 for his committee would be used to fund projects from Shark Tank directly out of his budget. The budget distributed had a unanimous “yes”.
The Senate gave a brief time for announcements, and the meeting was adjourned.
The live footage of the Senate meeting can be found here on the SUUSA Facebook page.