Salisbury University Student Government Association (SGA) hosted their first forum of the spring semester on Sunday evening with various topics on the agenda.
As per usual, recognized organizations and clubs at SU are required to send at least one representative to these forums. They have served as a direct way of contact from students to SGA officials and also the university.
The forum kicked off with Resident Directors Jacqui Rogers and Eileen Harrington discussing the upcoming sexual assault awareness week and the various events that will be taking place.
The main event that was publicized was the annual Take Back the Night event on April 11, which serves as a platform for people to share their stories. Residence Life along with the Counseling Center have been promoting these events along with others in April to garner more attendance and more awareness.
This presentation gave way to Sarah Winger, assessment coordinator for university analysis (UARA), who discussed the importance of Gull Week which is coming up at the end of February. With over 2,000 participants last semester the UARA wants to keep numbers up with prizes for recognized groups that have the best participation rates.
The data gathered from Gull Week assessments are used by SU to better enhance the general education experience for students.
The final report to begin the meeting came from the Vice President of Administration and Finance Marvin Pyles in the form of a tuition explanation to the audience.
For the fiscal year of 2019 SU will see a small increase in terms of tuition, an exact raise of $242 for in-state undergraduates and a raise of $802 for out-of-state.
Even with the small change, Pyles’ presentation compared SU to various other schools in the state to show that the university is still below the tuition average within Maryland.
One of the greatest adjustments that peaked student interest was in the realm of dining. SU will make long-awaited changes to the possible meal plans that students can select.
The first switch makes all meal plans a block plan as opposed to weekly, which means that students will have a total number of meals rather than a maximum number that they can use weekly. There will also be an elimination of one meal plan option, leaving only five options.
The plans will include; an everything plan, 200 meals, 125 meals, 75 meals and 45 meals.
Another key alteration to the meal plans will be an increase to the amount of dining dollars per plan, giving students more funds for dining options other than Commons. This increase will in turn raise the prices for each specific meal plan.
This specific story will be updated by The Flyer with more details about the changes.
Following those reports, Vice President of SGA Benjamin Lenox introduced Wallace Southerland, the new associate vice president of student affairs at SU.
This led into specific officer reports from SGA officials, beginning with Chief of Staff Jillian Scott who presented on the Counseling Center.
The counseling services at SU have long been a topic of discussion amongst students. During a time when mental health has been a hot national topic, many complaints have been heard regarding the lack of efficiency at the Counseling Center.
Scott spoke about a petition that had begun to reevaluate the service here at SU and to invest in a greater number of counselors for students. Her presentation was received well by the audience and at one point a majority of the group had vocalized they knew of someone who suffered from mental health problems.
The Counseling Center will also be a story updated on by The Flyer.
One of the last presentations was by Director of Diversity and Inclusion Donovan Mack, who discussed various events hosted by the Multicultural Alliance. Mack also gave an update on the ‘SU is US’ initiative by the president of the university to increase inclusive diversity in Salisbury.
The forum came to a peak once it was opened up for complaints or concerns from students in the audience. Some of the main concerns included on-campus buildings, trash cans and parking.
Multiple students voiced concerns regarding the Severn renovations that are set to take place this summer. The questions, directed towards Lenox as well as Vice President of Student Affairs Dane Foust, included concern regarding a decision that does not increase housing space despite increase in admission numbers.
Foust reminded that the Severn project is not expected to be done by summer’s end, but will still be pushed to finish as quickly as possible. He explained to students that the university is trying to maintain level admission rates.
The questioning then shifted to the use of Blackwell, which Foust said is a project that will take place in the following years. The idea is that the building will be used for a department such as admissions, advising, counseling or such.
Some students suggested that the university would use Blackwell as the home for the new College of Health and Human Services. Foust reiterated that there are no set plans, but that could be a possibility.
One of the final concerns discussed was a common difficulty for SU students– parking. Parking has remained a problem at SU for those students who drive to campus and students were voicing their desire for more options.
Many students were pointing to the lack of accountability for drivers with yellow passes who may park in another color spot, as well as discussing the amount of faculty spaces left open throughout the day.
Foust’s response included ideas that the university is considering that will aid parking, including a parking lot at the old Temple Hill Motel and new electronic monitoring.
Finally the meeting ended with Foust discussing SU Day in Annapolis, a yearly travel day where students and SU President Dr. Janet Dudley-Eshbach meet state legislators to request state funding. The university is asking for students to volunteer and come to the event so that students can be in front of legislators as well.
One of the biggest funding questions has come from the Athletic Department, as previously reported on by Sports Editor Chris Mackowiak, in requesting funds for a ‘New Maggs.’
The next SGA forum is set to take place on March 11 in Perdue Hall, Room 156.
By CHASE GORSKI