Previously on SGA: Funds for ping-pong, Presence and more

The following covers the meeting on Oct. 6.


Climate Check:

Sophomore Senator Ani Siva opened Climate Check with an update on the on-campus minimum wage initiative, stating that the committee is looking into ways to move forward. Legislative Relations Chair (LRC) Dario Leal told Senator Siva that he would like to join the minimum wage initiative committee.

Senator Siva also gave an update on concerns about Mabee Dining Hall, stating that he received an email from Charles Robles, food service director, explaining that dining items should now be labeled to disclose ingredients.

Sophomore Senator Ella Charbonnet gave an update on Free Food Fridays. The committee has put $1,200 towards Free Food Fridays in the budget. The current plan is to host fewer Free Food Fridays but focus on the quality of each event. Senator Charbonnet is working with Sophomore Senator Nadesh Vaithianathan to organize the first Free Food Friday event which will occur in late October or early November.

Advisor Jamie Thompson addressed an email sent to SGA by senior Meg McDonald about the idea for Plan B vending machines on campus. Advisor Thompson suggested that senators reach out to Marcy Youngdahl, director of integrated counseling & health services. Acting President Donya Ahmadi formed a committee to draft an email to Youngdahl. Junior Senator Danae Barkocy, first-year Senator Khushi Kakadia and first-year Senator Lacey Miller volunteered for the committee.

Funding Requests:

Wills Brown, assistant director for fraternity and sorority life and Coates Student Center, presented a funding request for a new ping-pong table in the Tiger Den. Brown showed an image of the hole in the net, which drew audible gasps from the senate. The total amount requested was $1,793.98 which would cover the cost of a new table, ping-pong balls, paddles and shipping costs. Sophomore Senator Andrew Phillips motioned to fully fund the purchase of a new ping-pong table, and sophomore Senator Allison Waters seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously, followed by applause and cheers of “Ping-pong for all!”

Advisor Thompson, assistant dean of students and director of student involvement, presented a funding request on behalf of student involvement to pay for Presence software, which is used to organize and track demographic information about on-campus organizations. The total cost of the software for 2022-2023 would be $8,400. Advisor Thompson requested that SGA contribute $4,000 toward renewing the school’s contract.

During the discussion portion of the funding meeting concerns about the software were raised by sophomore Senator Harrison Tinker. Senator Tinker, a certified full stack web developer, outlined a number of issues with the software — including coding errors, slow speeds and an out of date user interface — and argued that a competent web developer could create an alternative website in 2-3 months. The discussion about the merits of Presence were eventually tabled in order to hear other funding requests and revisited at the end of the meeting. Although the senate discussed the possibility of finding a higher quality alternative to Presence, it was ultimately determined that voting to not renew the contract for this year would force Student Involvement to take the money from another part of their budget to fund the platform so that student organizations would still have access to important documents that are stored on the software. Senator Phillips motioned to fund student involvement the full amount of $4,000. The motion was seconded by Senator Vaithianathan; the motion passed.

Advisor Thompson also presented a funding request on behalf of the TU Voter Engagement Task Force to cover the cost of their fall initiatives: National Voter Education Week, Vote Early Day and Election Day. The requested amount of $4,746.09 would cover the cost of TurboVote prizes, vans to take people to the polls and Election Day T-shirts, among other items. The senate raised a few concerns regarding the requested amount.

The first concern was $700 budgeted for advertising in the Trinitonian. Senior Senator Elizabeth McNeely questioned the efficacy of advertising in the Trinitonian, stating that she does not read the Trinitonian in print and suggested using social media for marketing. Acting President Ahmadi and LRC Leal requested that the record reflect that the SGA cabinet reads the Trinitonian. The second concern was that multiple senators felt the institution should be responsible for funding voter engagement initiatives on campus, and not SGA. In 2020, Advisor Thompson submitted a summary report to the president’s office outlining the task force’s belief that the institution should fund voter engagement initiatives on campus, but received no response.

Senator Mustafa moved to partially fund the task force $3,901.69, without the Trinitonian ad money, but the motion did not pass. Senator Charbonnet motioned to fully fund the task force $4,601.69. The motion was seconded by Senator Phillips, and passed with one against. LRC Leal motioned to put together a committee to get the institution to fund promoting voter engagement in the future. Senator Waters, Senator Barkocy and first-year Senator Sameed Aijaz volunteered to serve on the committee.

Senior Evan Engelhaupt, competition coordinator for TU Mock Trial, presented a funding request to send two teams to compete in the Houston Christian University (formerly Houston Baptist University) Invitational Competition. Engelhaupt requested $3,508.70, which would cover the costs of lodgings, meals, registration fees, transportation and case prints/materials. Senator Mustafa motioned to fully fund the amount of $3,508.70. The motion was seconded by Senator Charbonnet. The motion passed with three voting against and two abstaining.

Junior Angela Allen, assistant internal director for TigerThon, presented a funding request for a TigerThon fundraiser at PaperTiger. The $2,500 requested would cover the cost of the venue, so that all proceeds from ticket sales would go to The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. When the senate asked questions about whether alcohol would be served and if the cost of a DJ would be included in the price of the venue, Allen was unable to give definitive answers. Senator Mustafa, Senator Siva and Senator Tinker expressed uncertainty about the event and hesitation to fund an event that has so many undefined details. Senator Charbonnet motioned to fully fund TigerThon $2,500 and junior Senator Anthony Sierra seconded the motion, but with only three votes in favor, the motion did not pass. Senator Phillips moved to table the issue until the next finance meeting pending more information. Senator McNeely seconded the motion and it passed with three votes against. Acting President Ahmadi asked Senator Mustafa, Senator Tinker and Senator Siva to send her a list of questions they would like to be clarified.

Senator Vaithianathan, president of the South Asian Student Association (SASA), Senator Siva Siva, SASA vice president and Avni Raol, SASA treasurer, presented a funding request for their Trinity Express: Diwali 2022 event. They requested a total of $5,220 to cover the cost of catering from local traditional South Asian restaurants, serving materials for the food and reusable event materials, including items for setup, decor and sparklers. Senator Phillips motioned to fund fully SASA $5,220. Senator Charbonnet seconded it and the motion passed unanimously. Senator Vaithianathan and Senator Siva abstained to avoid conflict of interest.

Officer Reports:

Acting President Ahmadi gave a finance committee update. At the finance committee hearing on Oct. 5, the committee heard eight funding requests. Many of these were from Greek life organizations leading the committee to instate an unofficial rule to fund round event requests between $300-500 to avoid draining the SAF.

Judicial Chair Harrison Good announced that new points had been introduced to the constitution and by-laws, and he asked senators to review them on their own time.

Communication Chair Caleb Aguilar was not present, but asked Acting President Ahmadi to remind senators about the Tiger Takeovers on SGA’s Instagram.

DEI Chair Avery Lim asked senators to fill out the survey on demographic information in President Danny Nguyen’s most recent email.