SGA was in action on Wednesday, March 2, here’s five things you should know:
- Presidential Search
The search for Western’s new president is coming down to the final stretch, with the final selection slated for a Board of Trustees meeting in late March. The top three candidates are coming to campus next week.
Brad Baca will be on campus Tuesday, with student sessions from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the UC South Ballroom. Dr. Maria Kluwe will have her student session in the UC South Ballroom as well, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Finally, Dr. Michelle Rogers will have her stakeholder sessions on Thursday, in the West Wing of the Library (the “Harry Potter room”) with the 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. time block reserved for students.
SGA members will be tabling in the UC right before the sessions and will conduct “meet-and-gos”, leading students to the input sessions.
2. State of the Community Report
Professor Kari Commerford, a Psychology Lecturer at Western, came to SGA to discuss the Gunnison County Community Health Coalition, which will present its scrupulously researched State of the Community Report for the first time on Thursday, March 10 at Fred Field from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Prof. Commerford says the coalition first became nervous about the mental and socioeconomic fallout of Covid-19 early in the summer of 2020.
The group wanted to understand the community’s needs and determine out what targeted interventions and support mechanisms would work best within the Gunnison Community. The report, more than 250 pages in all, touches on a wide breadth of factors, including housing, food insecurity, financial security and local economics, tourism, substance use, mental health trends, and physical health factors, and is intended to serve as a launching point for further discussion and collaboration between various organizations in the valley, including Western and Mountaineer students.
The ultimate goal is to develop a master plan to address systemic valley-wide issues, which Prof. Commerford notes have been turned into crises by the pandemic. She adds that half of all renters are classified as cost-burdened in Gunnison, meaning they spend more than ⅓ of their income on rent, and that a large portion of Gunnison residents are just one crisis away from financial disaster.
To discuss these issues and much more, attend the March 10 report meeting and look out for future updates coming soon. You can also reach Prof. Commerford at firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Emergency relief funds for students
Asked about additional funding for student aid through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) program, Dean of Students Gary Pierson said that a large number of requests had been received, including requests for up to $20,000, necessitating a series of tough decisions for the committee charged with allocating the limited funds. Dean Pierson notes that there are a number of factors to consider, including family contributions and outstanding student balances. He added that the committee will meet next week, and that notifications of funding will hopefully be sent out before Spring Break.
4. Student events and fees
There was a discussion around the ethics and necessity of charging students for events hosted by organizations that receive funding from student fees, which are distributed through SGA. The Western Theater Company (charging $5 for a play) and the Amigos Club (charging $5 for non-drinking tickets, and $8 for a presale ticket that includes two drinks for their upcoming Carnaval) were both mentioned.
Charles Hammaker, the Multicultural Center’s Director, noted that Amigos is not using the charge as a revenue-raising tactic, and that the cost is intended more to establish attendance constraints, keep the event in-check, and protect university property. Carnaval is returning to campus for the first time after years of being hosted at Timbers Bar and Grill pre-pandemic.
Council for Creative Expression (CCE) Director Christopher Gibson, along with Director of LEAD and Orientation Sara Phillips, both made cases that events run by student organizations should remain free to students, but the general consensus was that some lenience should be provided for charging for alcohol.
Director Gibson noted that other useful methods for crowd control besides charging for tickets exist, like using clickers to determine crowd counts to keep an eye on capacity and maintain safety. Phillips added that students could be required to get a free ticket instead, to ensure that events don’t get out of hand.
5. Wilderness Pursuits seeks collaboration
Chloe Edwards from the Wilderness Pursuits marketing team came to talk briefly, mentioning that WP is trying to collaborate more with student clubs around shared events. The organization is trying to help coordinate pool sessions for whitewater kayaking at Western’s pool, but SGA President Adam Engleman noted that pool renovations are starting soon and are anticipated to last roughly a month. Edwards can be reached at email@example.com if you would like to discuss ideas for a collaboration with Wilderness Pursuits.