Previously, on SGA: Vending Machines, TigerThon and Res Life

The following covers the meeting on Oct. 12.


Climate Check:

Legislative Relations Chair (LRC) Dario Leal opened climate check with an inquiry as to who he should contact after losing $12 to a vending machine in the Center for Sciences and Innovation (CSI). Advisor Demi Brown recommended reaching out to Bruce Bravo, senior director of conferences and auxiliary services. Sophomore Senator Harrison Tinker advised LRC Leal to contact the TigerCard Office to give him a direct refund. Leal explained that a direct refund would be complicated as he initially attempted to pay with cash, TigerCard and credit card before finally paying with coins. First-year Senator Lacey Miller asked why LRC Leal continued to attempt to pay after the machine continuously took his money. LRC Leal explained that he refused to lose to a machine.

First-year Senator Molly Van Ackeren raised a complaint about Freshii, stating that they regularly prioritized food orders over smoothie orders. Advisor Brown noted that he gets smoothies from Freshii roughly four times a week and has not noticed this issue, but suggested sending an email to Charles Robles, food service director.

LRC Leal raised a concern about missing ceiling tiles in residential buildings. President Nguyen directed his question to Bret Biance, director of residential life, who stated that he was unaware of missing ceiling tiles in any building. LRC Leal stated he had photographs that he would send to Biance.

Sophomore Senator Allison Waters asked if anything could be done about the huge amount of flies in Mabee Dining Hall. Advisor Brown recommended emailing Robles, and President Nguyen requested to be CC’d in the email or to receive an update.

Junior Senator Angela Huereca-Alvarado wanted to know who to contact about the possibility of installing a print station in City Vista. Senator Waters, who got the print station in Prassel Hall, explained she reached out to Bravo and Trey Dunn, TigerCard coordinator. President Nguyen requested that Senators Huereca-Alvarado and Waters put each other in the same email thread and CC him.

Senator Phillips issued a reminder about the constitutional review meeting stating that the amendments to the SGA constitution needed to be updated and presented to the student body. President Nguyen said he would send out one of his “lovely” emails to inform the student body.

Senator Van Ackeren raised a concern about the lack of water stations in Herndon Hall. President Nguyen stated that since SGA originally proposed and funded water stations in residential buildings, they would be able to have one funded and installed.

Voting Docket:

The senate voted on the TigerThon funding request presented at the senate funding meeting on Oct. 5. The answers to the questions the senators submitted to TigerThon for clarification were uploaded to the SGA Drive.

In reviewing the budget, the main concern raised by the senators was whether TigerThon would be able to raise their estimated total of $3,000-4,000 donation. Senior Senator Ameer Mustafa felt that it may be more beneficial if SGA made a donation for the amount of $2,500 directly. Senator Miller pointed out that SGA has funded TigerThon events in previous years, and in the past TigerThon has ended up raising more than they expected. Senator Tinker acknowledged Senator Miller’s argument but pointed out that they were asking for more funding than they had in previous years. Senator Mustafa also pointed out that they had partnered with a frat last year, which helped their marketing efforts. First-year Senator Sameed Aijaz stated that TigerThon was planning on reaching out to Greek life.

The other issue that remained unclear was whether or not alcohol would be served at the event.

As no senators were willing to propose a motion, President Nguyen moved the vote to the end of the meeting in order to proceed with the staff chat from Biance. When the vote was reopened after the meeting, Sophomore Senator Andrew Phillips conducted an informal poll that indicated that one senator was in favor of no funding and five were in favor of full funding. Senator Miller motioned to fully fund TigerThon $2,500. Junior Senator Anthony Sierra seconded the motion, which failed with six votes in favor, four votes against and two abstained. President Nguyen was in the midst of checking the constitution when Senator Phillips indicated that he would like to change his vote. Senator Miller reproposed the motion to fully fund TigerThon $2,500. Senator Sierra seconded the motion, which passed with nine in favor and four opposed.

Staff Chat with Bret Biance:

Biance gave SGA insight into the upcoming residential life initiatives including updating their pragmatic model to better balance the needs of residential assistants (RA) and resident needs, doing more active programming and distributing a survey at the end of October or the start of November about the on-campus living experience to assess the wants and needs of students and allow residential life to see what needs should be met.

Residential life will also be doing an RA compensation review and room assessment. Currently, RAs are paid roughly $15 per hour and, according to Biance, work fewer hours than at other institutions — 15 hours a week for 18 weeks (including training). The Thomas triples are currently one of the most underutilized spaces on campus, so they will be looking at alternative ways to use that space to better serve students and consulting the DEI council for guidance.

Biance also gave an update on recent changes that residential life has made, including shifting around the RAs in the first-year and sophomore dorms, adjusting the student-to-RA ratio in City Vista to reflect the higher number of juniors living there and introducing resident assistant managers (RAMs) to serve as community managers and offer students supervisory experience. Residential life will be meeting with the RA team soon to get their feedback on the first eight weeks with the RAMs.

Senator Phillips asked about the timeline for the discussed initiatives. Biance indicated that they will occur as fast as he can get them written, but that the budget items will be done in the next few weeks and any changes to how rooms are utilized will have to be approved when he meets with the Board of Trustees in December.

Senator Mustafa asked Biance about what residential life was doing to make RAs feel valued and heard. Biance explained that they had recently made changes in the RA training plan and reestablished the RA retreat. Biance also explained that last year he established office hours for RAs to come to speak with him about issues one on one, but only two people did so over the course of the entire year. Biance stated that there were always going to be people who felt as though they weren’t being heard, but sometimes it’s a question of whether were they not heard or did they not like the answer and that sometimes it’s both. Biance explained that he plans to work with the DIO to make people feel more heard, that he has met with Eco Allies about the refilling stations in residential halls, and sat down to discuss compensation with an RA earlier that day.

Senator Mustafa also asked Biance whether there was an intermediate person above the RLCs but below Biance whom RAs could go to to have conversations without fear of retaliation. Biance replied that he felt that assistant directors of residential life were equipped to handle those situations, but they hope to create a position outside of the hierarchy that staff can get to and feel comfortable with. Advisor Brown stated that they can’t control how people feel, but that ifs there is any evidence that an RA or staff member came forward in good faith and faced retaliation, the issue would be taken seriously.

Officer Reports:

President Nguyen gave an update on the menstrual product dispensers. The final step in the process will be President Nguyen making a funding request at the next senate funding hearing to finance the dispensers from the student activity fund (SAF). The dispensers should be installed by mid-November.

President Nguyen gave an update on the meeting he and Advisor Brown attended at Apple headquarters, stating he felt optimistic. Advisor Brown added that Trinity was the first institution Apple had met with that had brought a student representative and that President Nguyen had opened their meeting with a speech that earned a standing ovation and made people tear up and that the Apple representatives asked for his resume. President Nguyen asked that the record reflect that he did not receive a gift bag — he only got a mug — and he was optimistic about the possibility of setting up a Trinity-to-Apple talent pipeline.

President Nguyen reminded the senators to sign-up to represent SGA at the alumni weekend tailgate sponsored by the Bengal Lancers on Oct. 22. He also reminded them of the invitation from Laura Cheng, associate director of alumni relations, to the alumni donor breakfast.

President Nguyen announced that SGA will be partnering with the Greek Council and Trinity University Student Ambassadors to host a tailgate on Nov. 12. The tailgate will be partially funded through the SGA operational budget and partially through SAF.

Communications Chair Caleb Aguilar reminded senators to fill out the form from Sophomore Senator Ella Charbonnet so that they can begin posting fun facts about the senators on social media, and that Senator Phillips is set to do the next Instagram takeover on Monday. President Nguyen will send out information on how to do an Instagram takeover to the senators.