IUPUI’s undergraduate student government (USG) has been steadily growing. Large senatorial turnout and participation has invigorated the entire organization. In fact, due to increased work in committees and full schedules for senators, the meetings were rescheduled on a biweekly basis. The most recent one was last Friday.
The meeting was called to order at noon in room BS2000. After the approval of the agenda, senator Noah Pumphrey motioned to allot time to discuss the Student Development Funding Committee (SDFC) and asked for 25 minutes. His motion was approved and added to the agenda.
Two students from the school of education passed out surveys to senators about higher education and student affairs. Once completed, Vaughn and Barbret introduced a flowchart that Barbret created detailing the process for developing and passing legislation, particularly a bill to change university policy, which could take months or years to enact.
The next discussion centered around vice president Michael Thompson’s project to have IUPUI serve as a central location for student governments from other Indiana and IU schools to meet. Vaughn and Barbret explained that it was not a bill, but a proposal that senate could either approve or deny. It is still under development and there are hopes to clarify everything in the next meeting.
Major updates to the elections code are pending as well. The oversight committee agreed to look at it and see how it can be clarified in a similar manner to the constitution. They hope to meet on off Fridays and welcome the opinions of other senators.
“If you’ve never seen it, it is a joy, let me tell you,” Vaughn said, sarcastically, of the code.
Senators Dave Miller and Jonathan Hawkins then spoke of their plan to have a USG day of service at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana. Their plan is to have as many senators as possible carpool to Gleaners on Dec. 9 and volunteer from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. They hope to have every senator in attendance.
When the time came for Pumphrey to take the floor, he started by drawing a chart that said how the general fee money is allocated and controlled. The USG is given about $85,000, according to Barbret, and only has choice in the use of about $32,000. She later shared an experience at a national conference for student governments and said that Indiana is the only state where students do not have complete control over the school’s fund allocation.
Pumphrey described being shut out by the SDFC and Juliana Jalal, a coordinator for student organizations, and that he was told that the SDFC’s inner workings and numbers were not public information. He said that student funding has neither approved or denied a single student organization grant (SOG) and that undergraduate educational enhancement grant (UEEG) was out of funds as of three hours before the meeting began.
“There’s been a lot of concern over how student organizational grants and undergraduate enhancement grants have been going, and making it easier for student organization leaders to do their job is one of my personal goals,” Pumphrey said.
The SDFC discussion was equal parts unifying and heated. Hawkins described animosity between Jalal and himself, as well as IUPUI’s Greek life community and the SDFC; he said that because fraternities and sororities are so often rejected their funding requests that they do not bother filing them anymore. Senator Laura Hosek decried the SDFC and said it was unacceptable that students did not have information or control over money allocation.
“Basically my comment was that we have been many a times told by administration that certain things are not possible, that certain information is just--we shouldn’t have access to, and in my opinion, that is completely unacceptable,” she said. “We as students deserve to know where our money is going, we deserve to know where our funds are spent, you can’t just take our money and do whatever you want.”
Barbret, Vaughn, and the senate agreed to have either a meeting or hearing of some sort with Jalal on Dec. 2.
The meeting ended ahead of schedule; after declaring the meeting adjourned, Vaughn said how pleased he was with the senate’s level of participation and how smoothly the discussion went.
“I’m so happy with this!” he said.