This year’s University of Dallas Student Government has kicked off with enthusiasm and eagerness to serve the student body’s needs. Last Wednesday, Sept. 27, SG held its weekly meeting in Cardinal Farrell Hall 219, the Catholic Foundation Board Room, where they discussed what proposed initiatives they will go forward with and how to allocate their $18,000 budget.
SG is comprised of four executive officers, four primary committees and twenty-four senators representing freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, commuters, seminarians, student athletes and international students.
Every senator must serve on at least one of the four primary committees: the Crusader Outreach Committee, the Student Concerns Committee, or the Administrative Functions Committee. Senators request to be placed on the committee or committees of their choice, and the executives distribute positions as fairly as possible. The committee chairs, however, were elected by a majority vote of SG the previous week.
“The work should be done in the committees,” said Dr. Gregory Roper, dean of students and SG advisor. “The committees hash things out and then bring those things to the body as a whole. I think that’s the professional way to do it. It’s the efficient way to do it.”
Each committee brought their new initiatives to the table during the meeting.
Two major allocations of funds discussed were ice cream for Sundae Sundays, an event hosted on certain Sundays at 8:00 p.m. in Cardinal Farrell Hall and run by the Crusader Outreach Committee, and candy for the Student Concerns booth.
The Student Concerns Committee is beginning to receive student concerns so they can address them. Their first Student Concerns booth was on the Mall this past Friday, Sept. 29.
“We want to listen and then assign the different senators to those concerns so that their needs get met and someone’s advocating for them. We want to advocate for our peers,” said Theresa Maska, freshman psychology major and senator. “The University of Dallas is our home and so if your needs aren’t getting met, we want to be your family and stand up for you, advocate for you.”
Rebecca Dalsass, sophomore English major and senator, mentioned one particular student concern the committee hopes to address.
“There are people voicing frustrations with the new OSA credit card situation. Reimbursements are now a little more complicated than they used to be,” said Dalsass. “Now, you have to record requests well in advance. You have to request one of the very few OSA credit cards they have available […] and clubs will fight for them.”
Dalsass is already building up momentum to tackle this challenge.
“I’m hoping to bring some changes starting next week,” she said. “I’m hoping to get some signatures from students this Friday.”
The Service Advocacy Committee has nothing concretely planned for this academic year but is considering several projects, such as hosting weekly intramural service events.
“We hope to combine the efforts of all the different service clubs out there. You have Mission Youth, you have Crusaders For Life and you have this service outreach committee, ” said Kevin Grant, junior business major and chair of the Service Advocacy Committee. “We hope to combine forces and do as much as possible so students can give back on the weekends.”
SG also discussed the creation of a special seasonal committee, the Campus Beautification Committee, which senators could serve on a volunteer basis. “Campus Beautification is a committee that was formed last fall with the intent to improve the university’s ambiance,” said Sophia Koch, senior business major and senator.
In the past, the committee has been responsible for funding new art in Clark Hall, allocating funds to begin fundraising for a pro-life statue, and surveying students for their input into what improvements they want on campus. This committee was critical to the change in artwork around the Cap Bar.
“Ryan Connor was also able to work with assistant provost John Norris to switch the art between the [Cap Bar] and UDPD (the giant watermelon and the outlet) to art that is more visually appealing,” said Koch.
The motion to create the committee this semester was tabled at the Sept. 28 meeting.
“The tabling of the motion was to make sure that we stayed under senate rules by giving the senate a few days’ notice before the formation of the committee, just standard procedure. It should be officially formed next week,” said Koch.
Willem Anderson, senior business major and senator, is heading a proposal to open the Rathskeller on weekends and potentially have student workers manage the facility’s operations. Anderson’s inspiration for this initiative stemmed from his experience working as a resident assistant last year.
“Many residents would complain about the Ratskeller not being open during the weekends. I’ve talked to many of my peers, and they all agree it’s a significant problem, so I’ve set myself out to see what I can do about it,” said Anderson.
Anderson has been garnering student support for this initiative over the past week. The next step is to distribute a form in which students can not only express their desire for the Rat to be open on the weekends but also why they would like it to be open.
“This past week, starting on Thursday, I got 100 signatures demonstrating that students are interested in this,” he said. “Then I got the approval [for] 300 copies of the form where students can express why they want the Rathskeller to be open on weekends, so I can then present that to Aramark, a.k.a. food services.”
Lily Dorris, sophomore English and theology major and senator, hopes the Rat initiative will help to create community and assist other committees in their work.
“Being able to incorporate some of what we do in the other committees with this Rat project would be a really neat way to build a community around the shared space,” said Dorris.
Maggie Sonne, freshman business major and senator, spoke to the need for community and how SG can facilitate this.
“I think it’s important just to do it on an individual level,” said Sonne. “There are a lot of good ideas floating around for ways to get people who are STEM majors, commuters and athletes who have huge time commitments to be more involved on campus.”