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Student Government Association starts the Semester Strong

With President Ophelia Griffen’s lead, SGA had a productive and positive first meeting
With two items completed and two legislations presented SGA set the semester off to a productive start.

  With SGA’s first meeting of the fall 2023 semester, the student body representatives created a  lighthearted environment in the Student Union on Aug. 21 while presenting themselves and discussing campus changes. 

  After the Speaker of the House Brett Boyer swore in the 90th UMKC council, the executive board members introduced themselves and expressed their desire to serve their senate and the UMKC community. 

  “I would love to get to know each and every one of you,” said Ophelia Griffen, student body president. “I’m not joking. I really want to get to know you and how I can make SGA better for everyone.”

As last year’s first-year council director and senator for the School of Science and Engineering, Viermann said he hopes to use his experience to increase this council’s engagement on campus and organization. (Provided by Chris Viermann)

  The Senate voted to immediately elect the director of the First-Year Council, selecting Chris Viermann and Natalie McCarthy as co-leads.

  Comptroller Justice Horn presented the Truth over Troost Act which would condemn the honoring of Dr. Benoist Troost, a slave owner known for his mistreatment of slaves, and support the changing of Troost Avenue to Truth Avenue. 

  He said taking a side was necessary because of Troost’s reputation and how close the street runs to campus. Several stakeholders and community members are advocating for this change as well and are gathering signatures

 Senator Shewit Abai read legislation proposing that senators are paid $300 a semester for the time they commit. As the executive and the Student Activity Fee

McCarthy said she wants to focus on bringing a diversity of majors to first-year council and making sure everyone in the council feels supported (Provided by Natalie McCarthy) 

Committee members are compensated some senators said they see this as fair. However, the payments would come from the student organization budget. 

  “It appears senators are getting the short end of the stick which in turn can damage involvement and engagement,” Abai read. “If senators were paid that could eventually create a sense of duty and lead to them running for SGA in the future.”

  Over 30% of the budget was cut last year, meaning there would be even less money for student organizations. However, these organizations did not spend around $80,000 of the money they requested last year.

  Advocating for the creation of an Ad Hoc committee devoted to civic engagement, Senator Adriana Paez spoke to the lack of organization and motivation when it came to students’ participation in politics. 

  This ad hoc committee passed with 24 affirmative votes. Additionally, Paez has a petition to add a question on the 2024 ballot to increase minimum wage in Missouri and give more sick leave to minimum wage workers. 

  Other items the executive board presented include:

  • The removal of affirmative action and DEI requirements and what this might mean for each senator’s school 
  • Showing the preliminary plans to close 51st Street and transform it into a pedestrian walkway, as mentioned in the State of the University
  • UMKC’s new Core 42 tuition model makes student’s tuition dependent on their major
  • Encouraging outreach to the Kansas City Native American Community and acknowledging the land taken from them 
  • Campus programs like Tradition, SAFC and Roos Read
  • Bids on the new arena coming to UMKC will be made next week and the council is pushing for a LEED-certified construction plan

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