Saturday, September 26, 2009

Student Government Association meeting notes - September 23, 2009

Click here to see last week's SGA blog. Oh wait, it accidentally got deleted. Click here to see what I wrote a couple minutes after the blog got deleted. I eventually got around to writing about a couple main points from that blog while I was bored and sitting at the laundromat. Click here to see the "Laundromat Blogging" entry.

To touch on the "Laundromat blog" a little bit - as I mentioned in the comments section, Lesley Weeks was selected as the new Secretary. She was sworn in at the 9/23 SGA meeting, which we'll discuss soon enough. Also, the newspaper was printed this week. Look for that around campus, or if you're not on campus (or just too lazy to look around) click the following link - http://cunewspaper.com/.

What I'd really like to talk about are a few of the comments that were left in that post. I received the following anonymous comment -

So when did the mighty Chris Slater "Sell Out" for liars?

That comment came about due to me speaking highly of both Ashley Hicks and Kiwa Nadas. It has since come out that both put a false Grade Point Average on their Secretary applications. The minimum GPA is 2.5, which is what both put down. When their "background check" was completed, it was shown that both had below a 2.5.

I'll go into this a little bit more during the "SGA report," because Attorney General Bill Lewis brings it up during his report. But, what I'll say right now is that we don't really know if Ashley and Kiwa are "liars" as this person wrote.

In fact, Ashley left a comment on my blog saying that her turning in a Secretary application was a joke and that she wasn't serious. I've had a couple high-ranking SGA officials tell me differently, that they believe her recent comments are meant to be a "face-saving" measure due to the incorrect GPA leaking. I've heard nothing regarding Kiwa's application.

Regarding the anonymous comments feature that I allow, I want to set something straight. I allow this mainly for the ability to allow people to speak up about issues without fear of retribution or damaging their name. If you have a legitimate point that you feel needs to be out there, but you don't want your name attached to it, I don't really care if you decide to make it anonymous.

I'll give an example of an anonymous comment that is a good example & one that's a bad example -

I don't believe Chris is a sell out, but I do believe he has been fooled like the rest of us by people like Ashley Hicks. The student body has realized that it participating in the SGA doesn't necessarily mean you are more "Qualified." Qualification extend far beyond experience. Most of the time we receive people who have no moral backbone, but hopefully this will not continue to be the case.

Jeff yeager won the last election clearly because people are tired of immoral people. They may still be upset that the people we dislike are still involved, but nobody has stepped up to remove them from those positions. The student body's voice goes far beyond the E board, yet that is who is running the show once again. In the future it would be nice to remove all of those people from leading SGA, but for now we will have to deal with what we have.

That's a very good point. I don't agree with all of it, but it's somebody's opinion, so it's okay. This person has issues with how the SGA is run. It offers criticism, but it doesn't trash anybody and it is fairly civil. Nothing wrong with this one. The next comment though...

When did Ashley become competent? She flakes out every time something happens. Does anyone remember the SGA picnic last year? Problems arose and she fled, and now she is hobbling around acting like she is injured for attention. When will the wool come off from peoples' eyes in the SGA?

This is not cool. First off, there's nothing wrong with asking if somebody in the SGA is competent, only if the examples are taken from their SGA-related actions. Implying that she faked her recent ankle injury or her hospital stay last semester is horrible. Hopefully this is a one-time only instance that we can learn from. Don't trash people for no reason. If this keeps up, I'll have to turn off the anonymous comment feature. Don't ruin it for everybody else.

Now, some recap & thoughts of the 9/23 SGA meeting

* * *

[note, if I don't leave a name of the committee chair, it's because I either don't remember it or I don't know who the person is ... people need to be introduced better]

The meeting kicked off with President Jeff Yeager saying he wanted the committee chairs to make sure announce a day, time, and meeting place for their committee, with them all being read back at the end of the meeting. Unless I missed it, I think they forgot to read back the meeting times

The SGA Affairs committee report was up first ... they have not had a meeting yet, but will possibly have one Friday (9/25)

They forgot to leave a time & place

Russell Christian was not in attendance, so his Safety committee report was read by Senator Jenn Smith ... the "safety walk" he discussed last week was a flop, as nobody showed up ... he has issues with lighting around the modular units behind Wooddell Hall

Jenn wasn't sure of the meeting time Russell has set up. I think he has a Safety committee Facebook group. The "safety walk" was supposed to be Russell and company walking around campus looking at potentially dangerous areas.

Dining committee report was up next (I believe the chair is Katlyn Amos...) ... the new ice cream machine will be installed in the cafeteria after the wiring they would hook up to it can be fixed ... she looked through the ARAMARK contract looking for things they are not doing ... the cafeteria should soon be getting yogurt, raisin bread, toppings for toast, and two more cereal options ... she is looking into malt vinegar as a salad topping, brown sugar, and more fruit for the cafeteria ... they have received good and bad feedback about the "stir fry area," so they are looking into options with that ... the cafeteria wants more recipes brought to them; they will make your recipe

It seems like the Dining committee is off to a good start. I know this will be an unpopular opinion, but I've always enjoyed eating in the cafeteria. It's not all great, but most of the food isn't that bad. That's just my take on it.

Publications committee report was next ... meeting times are Thursday at 3 p.m. in the SGA office

ADA committee report was given by Jenn Smith ... she spoke with Rick Dillon (Concord's ADA committee chair) and Nancy Ellison (not sure of her exact title regarding this, but she works with students with disabilities) about ADA issues ... concord will be purchasing a ADA-accessible pottery wheel ... she noted that all the tables in the library are ADA compliant ... the ADA committee has no budget, Rick Dillon told her that he brings a compliance issue to the division chair of wherever the issue is & they take care of it ... Smith noted that two-thirds of the division money comes from students ... she brought up issues of the hill area beside the gazebo being too steep for wheelchairs & was told that that area was not designed for wheelchair use ... Smith noted that she has received "literally millions" of complaints about learning disability issues and said if you have a learning disability to speak with Nancy Ellison ... Rick told her the campus as a whole is legally 100% ADA compliant, but is forming a committee to find ways to make it even more compliant ... "I'm not gonna lie, I was surprised they were on top of everything," Smith said

First thing's first - somebody teach Jenn Smith the definition of "literally." I'm doubting her claim that over 1 million students came to her with complaints. Secondly, I'm glad that Concord is ADA compliant. The only real "problem area" left on campus is the Fine Arts building, but Jenn said last week that she wasn't making that a priority of hers, since money is on the way fix that & other issues in that building. I'm glad somebody finally pointed out that the sidewalk beside the gazebo isn't intended for wheelchairs. That always looked too steep and kind of dangerous.

Publicity committee, led by JR Davis, noted that they had no agenda yet and were looking into things to publicize

I guess they'll start publicizing Homecoming Week soon. Other good ideas to publicize are things like the free tutoring Concord offers, the Career Services Office, The Concordian website, and the football team's record & game times.

Technology committee has not yet met ... meeting in Sarvay Hall

Housing committee will be meeting Tuesdays at 1 p.m. in the SGA office, tentatively

Jeff Yeager gave the Ethics committee report ... meeting times are Tuesdays at 4 p.m. in the SGA Office ... said it is an open committee, everybody is encouraged to attend

Akeya Carter-Bozman gave the Multicultural Affairs committee report ... one person attended their last meeting ... will have two meeting times - Wed. at 1 and Fri. at 1, both in the SGA office

Judicial Reform committee, led by Bill Lewis, gave Thursdays at 4:15 as his meeting time ... he wants to set a definite schedule and lay out any goals the committee has at their next meeting

Matt Belcher noted in his Budgetary Reform committee report that his committee would begin work after the Budgetary process is over

Gary Thompson's Green Sustainability committee report was next ... he noted that he is looking into ways to make the Registrar's office use less paper ... he is looking into the campus police gas consumption & suggested getting them bikes or segway scooters ... he also suggested that Concord find an actual recycling service, instead of it being something student-based

Curtis Kearns gave his Tuition & Fees committee report next, saying that if anybody was interested in attending, to come see him ... he also said he would be asking some students to attend

The Prime Justice gave her report, noting that due to the meeting losing quorum last week, the Homecoming committee election rules were not able to be introduced ... according to the bylaws, they needed to be approved three weeks before the Homecoming elections (which would be this week) ... she asked for a motion to suspend the bylaws, so that everything can be moved up a week ... the motion passed

This is the second time the the bylaws have had to be suspended in order to get around a deadline. The first time was a week or two ago for the Budgetary committee.

Attorney General Bill Lewis gave his report next ... he noted that he wouldn't be counting absences from last week, because the Executive Board should have suggested a much longer time for the recess ... he is going to be enforcing absences next week, and it is likely he will have to take away some organizations voting rights ... he received a request to investigate Ashley Hicks & Kiwa Nadas for putting inaccurate Grade Point Averages on their Secretary applications ... he noted that there is no official SGA policy, but did note that the University has a policy regarding putting fraudulent information on university papers ... Curtis Kearns spoke against the investigation ... Jenn Smith said that maybe they didn't realize what their GPA was ... discussion was ended after "call to question" was invoked ... the senate voted not to allow the investigation

The SGA has done the first big thing of the semester that I completely disagree with. First of all, they used "call to question" incorrectly. That is used when discussion is going in circles or nothing new is being offered - that ends discussion and starts the vote. It was invoked this time to stop discussion - so one side could get its word in and start the vote. That's not right.

I don't see anything wrong with allowing the Attorney General to look into this. While there is nothing specifically in the rules against doing this, it definitely appears to be unethical - if Ashley and Kiwa intentionally did this. Ashley has pretty much admitted to intentionally putting a false GPA on her application. This is something that the Ethics committee should look into. Perhaps a "Code of Ethics" - which is what that committee is trying to create - would stop something like this from ever happening again, or provide a suitable punishment if it did happen.

Of course, that's all conjecture at the moment - there is still no official word on whether or not Ashley and Kiwa lied on their applications. And, we're never going to know - because the Student Senate allowed itself to be bullied into not doing something that it should have done.

Next, the Judicial Branch read its opinion regarding the case involving Matt Belcher being accused of not paying Wes Prince, Curtis Kearns, and Ashley Hicks correctly ... the court sides with the plaintiffs, believing Belcher had no authority to change the pay scale and that he should pay them what they are owed

I mentioned in the blog that got deleted (so nobody actually saw it) that I was covering this for The Concordian. I was assigned the story a few weeks ago, but decided to hold off after they ran into some issues with the case and the ruling was delayed for a couple weeks. Now that everything looks to be back-on-track, it looks like I'm back to covering that.

Curtis Kearns gave his Board of Governors report, noting that Thursday, 9/24 was the first Board of Governors meeting of the academic year ... the long-discussed "military policy" will finally be brought up ... Kearns noted two new Board members - Robert Fogelsong and Steve [didn't get last name] ... they replaced Wayne Meisel and Jay Long ... the Board will need to have a new chair as a result of the two resignations ... Kearns noted that he did not become chair of the Higher Education Policy Commission's State Advisory Council of Students ... He thanked Glenville College's representative for supporting him throughout the entire voting process for the position of Chair

Curtis mentioned briefly during his report that the BOG would be discussing the H1N1 virus. He said that there were no cases on campus, despite rumors to the contrary. For some reason, this then prompted Senator Jenn Smith to proclaim that there were actually three cases of Swine Flu on Concord's campus. She cited Sarah Whitacre and Bill Fraley as her sources. No matter if it's true or not, it was idiotic the way it was brought up. It was mentioned in a careless "I heard from so-and-so that there were 3 cases..." If this is true, it should have been brought up better, and if it's not true, this is a perfect example of how stupid rumors get started. Maybe she heard the rumor from "literally millions" of people...

Akeya Carter-Bozman gave her Vice President's report next ... the Homecoming budget is $14,479 ... students were asked to vote for 5 options out of 10 for ideas for "Spirit Week" events ... the options were:

- pajama day
- maroon & gray day
- generation day
- rep your organization day
- color day
- celebrity day
- messy hair day
- mismatch day
- favorite sports team day
- toga day

I guess the results will be announced next week. I'm not really excited about any of those options, but some people are. I can see a lot of ditzy sorority girls getting excited about that. And, ladies, don't get mad at that comment - you know at least a couple girls in each sorority fit the definition of "ditzy." I don't know what all of the $14,000 will be spent on. I guess that will also be revealed soon. Ditto with the t-shirt design. And the Homecoming theme. Has that already been mentioned?

Business Manager Matt Belcher gave his report ... started off by noting that the Senate has to decide if they want him to pay Wes, Curtis, and Ashley ... he then announced the members of the Budgetary committee

I didn't get all of the members of the Budgetary committee - of the 6-member committee, I managed to write down Karina Rahall, Kiwa Nadas, and Charles. I don't know who Charles is.

President Jeff Yeager gave his report ... appointed Lesley Weeks to Secretary ... appointed Travis Reynolds & Steven Habee [sp?] to Senator ... appointed Thomas Bland to Freshman Senator ... appointed Jen Smith, "Justice" Lester [jeff didn't say his first name], and Brittany Keys to the Homecoming committee ... Bill Lewis was appointed to chair an AD HOC Election Reform committee ... He is serving on a committee to find a new Resident Director for South Tower ... Jeff talked about two inexperienced professors that Concord has hired, noting his disappointment in it - one only has a Bachelors Degree and the other one graduated from Concord in May ... "It is an outrage that these people are teaching here. We should have the best quality professors we can get" ... he brought up the tailgating policy for Homecoming this year - "As President, I'm satisfied with this policy," he said, and added "Tailgating is a privelige and we should work hard to keep this respectful."

It came out during discussion of the Senators that Steven Habee [sp?] is a Civil War re-enactor. That then brought up the revelation that Curtis Kearns has also done some Civil War re-enacting in the past. That's interesting. I think that would be kind of fun to do, maybe...

It's a good thing the Senate approved Lesley as Secretary, because she was already sitting at the front table recording the minutes. Unless I missed some dissenters sitting behind me, I believe Curtis Kearns was the only one to vote against Bill Lewis charing the Election Reform committee. I guess Curtis doesn't think Bill can "Fix It."

During discussion of the inexperienced professors, SGA Advisor (and Faculty Senate President) Dr. Charles Brichford chimed in, noting that it has historically not been Concord's policy to hire such inexperienced professors. Without saying so, he gave the strong impression that he did not agree with this.

In New Business, Amendment 09232009A was voted on. It resolves to get a more accurate means of storing SGA Minutes. It will be discussed next week, with voting taking place the week after that.

* * *

That looks like about everything from the meeting. If I missed anything & you want to fill everybody in (Budgetary committee, hint hint...), feel free to do so. If I got any facts wrong, let me know.

Here's the disclaimer -

I import these blogs into Facebook. That gives me the option to "tag" people, sending them an e-mail notification. I tag people for two reasons - 1) if I mention you by name & 2) if I think you will find this interesting. If you are tagged and don't want to be, let me know. If I don't tag you & you'd like to be tagged in the future, let me know.

There is a comment feature on this blog & I don't mind if you use it. It's cool to disagree, as long as it's kept civil. Anonymous comments are allowed, as long as it's relevant & mildly profanity free.

As a final closing note, check out the YouTube video embedded below. I'm not even going to lie - I like it.

8 comments:

  1. Exciting news - this is my 50th blog since I switched over to the "BlogSpot" platform.

    I wonder how many I had on MySpace. I would probably say close to 500. Yikes.

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  2. Congratulations Chris on the success of your blog. They are very informative for people who still like to know whats going on around campus without having the time to interact.

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  3. i guess i just wanted to comment in matt browning's defense (whom i assume was meant by the new teacher at concord that just graduated last may)
    now i know he may not have "experience" or whatever, but i can honestly say he is an amazing teacher. he is VERY knowledgeable in what he teaches (which has to do with theatre, speech, and the like) and he is very passionate about what he does, which is more than i can say about quite a few professors here. i think all of us have had a professor or two, where we thought "what the heck are they doing teaching here? they dont know what they're talking about st all", but i must say that matt browning is one of the better teachers ive had here, despite his "inexperience". plus, he has to answer directly to dr. gambill for everything he does. this includes, but is not limited to, the syllabus, lesson plans, quizes, tests, and the like. i think he actually gives the same tests gambill does, and im pretty sure he teaches the same things, at the same pace as gambill does. so, browning's not just floating out in left field somewhere, hes kept a close eye on and he answers to higher authority.

    i know that him teaching here may be an outrage to some, and thats completely understandable. i just wanted everyone to realize that despite that fact, he is a great teacher and he loves what he does.

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  4. Chris,

    I always enjoy your blogs. I just have 2 things to comment on this time.

    1. I think the cafe is pretty good too. I mean if you can't find something in there that you like then you must not be hungry.

    2. It seems there has been a misunderstanding of something I said in a separate discussion with some student workers. I was informed of Jenn's comments Thursday morning, but due to both of our busy schedules I have been unable to discuss the issue with her. I was told (but do not know 100% for sure) that she stated that I told her of two cases on campus and they were quarantined to the dorms. I have never said there are cases of swine flu on campus to anyone.

    However, I feel sure I know where this started. In a discussion with a few Game Room employees about the swine flu and measures to prevent it, I mentioned that we had a couple students at Concord who had the swine flu before they arrived and had been in quarantine before coming. Let me say, I am sorry for any rumors that may have scared any students as a result of this conversation. To my knowledge there are no cases of swine flu on campus; and as I still work for housing too I feel sure I would know if anyone was quarantined, and I have not heard this from anyone.

    Once again I apologize for any rumors that got started due to this. I do not apologize for giving my employees information regarding something so important, but I do apologize that it was somehow misinterpreted in a way that could cause so much panic among our students and staff.

    Thanks Chris.

    Bill Fraley
    Intramurals Director

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  5. I can understand why people would be concerned about the new professors with little to no experience, but I don't think it's fair to make such harsh judgments without first knowing the particulars. I, personally, am far more concerned about the professors who, despite being here for years, aren't effective educators. In my experience, Concord tends to shun newcomers or those with less experience in favor of people who already work at the school or have a lot of years to their credit. In most cases, this is good and ensures we have the most qualified staff and faculty. However, I think we'd be wrong to just assume that because someone has less experience, they must automatically be an inferior teacher. As the commenter suggested above, perhaps these new instructors have something valuable to share with CU student, namely a fresh perspective and enthusiasm for the materiel that is sadly lacking from a lot of our more experienced faculty. If there is a concern about their qualifications and job performance, then we have measures to gauge that and can decide whether or not they deserve their positions. However, until they've given us a reason to doubt their abilities, then I don't think it's appropriate for anyone to get outraged. It's important to note that this complaint originally came to Jeff, not from a student, but from a faculty member. If students are complaining that the instructors are unqualified, then fine. They're the ones in the classroom, not the faculty.

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  6. No respectable University that has any credibility lets people, no matter how smart and intelligent or who offer a fresh perspective, teach classes with just a Bachelor's degree. It simply is a qualification that should not acceptable to Concord students. It brings the credibility of our institution down by having people like this aboard. Our faculty have worked for many years getting their PHD's or even getting a MA or a MS. Their efforts and intelligence should not be insulted by this place bringing people in who just graduated last year. Again, it would be like me coming back to teach English 102 or Philosophy 101 or 102 next year. If I am serious about getting an education that means something more than a piece of paper, then I expect better. What makes Concord better than local community colleges or even big schools like WVU that have TA's is the fact that we have a world-class faculty; let's keep it that way. Faculty have every right to be upset about this, and I think students should back them. As a student who is looking to apply to big name law schools this fall, I certainly do not want my degree from Concord to be a laughingstock because it lets BA's teach. Because, let's face it, even if Browning knows what he's talking about, he certainly isn't an expert in the field with just a BA. I would like to think that I know what I'm talking about in English, but I should not be teaching Concord students the same courses that someone like Dr. Roth or Dr. Brichford teaches.

    Furthermore, I investigated Senator Smith's claim that Swine Flu was going around campus. The Emergency Response Team is not aware of any such cases.

    One more thing--I encourage everyone to come to the Division of Social Sciences Symposium on retention this Tuesday at 8 PM. I look forward to helping with research and helping the administration keep people here.

    On further reflection Chris, I should have ruled the call to question dilatory. Consider that my first major mistake as chair this year.

    Watch out for more religious studies news!

    See everyone this week,

    Jeff

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  7. Bill & Jeff,

    Thank you for the Swine Flu updates.

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  8. Chris,

    I get all of my information from official reports. I'd heard a lot of nasty rumors going around and wanted to address them head on. So far, I'm right about the lack of swine flu on campus. I hope it stays that way.

    Steve Collins is the man replacing Joe Long.

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