SGA opens new semester with a further push and resolution vote for tuition transparency

Written By Alexis Bonifate, SGA Beat Writer

In the first legislative body meeting of the semester, SGA members expanded upon a discussion originating in the fall 2020 semester. Tuition and its annual increase have been a hot button issue for the student body as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused many obstacles. 

President Dennis McDermott opened the discussion during Open Floor sessions. 

“Tuition is regularly raised each year by 4%. As you are aware, I don’t know if I would mark this as a normal year. It is my belief that if we push hard enough for it, we may not achieve necessarily preventing tuition raising but we might achieve some other goals” President McDermott said. 

Senators Hannah Confer and Drew Simko offered concurring opinions. Senator Confer noted how some of her friends are still struggling to pay for last semester and having the tuition go up when students are struggling with existing debts is going to be difficult for many students. Senator Simko concurred that the school needs to be more transparent about where the money is going. 

Senator Madysen Piper, although in agreement with the former, understands that the institution itself would be losing money, so exploring different avenues for the school to gain revenue may be a solution. 

Simko voiced further concern that Point Park may be “putting more money into being a bigger university by buying advertising and buildings than in making students that they currently have be more comfortable.” 

The legislative body came to a unanimous decision that they will work in preventing tuition from raising with the secondary objection of having more tuition transparency. An email will be sent to the entire student body that will notify both them and the administration about the legislative body’s stance. A meeting between SGA President McDermott and University President Paul Hennigan will follow suit to discuss this issue. 

New developments on the social media front are in the works as well by SGA to promote more diversity and inclusion on campus. During the Executive Board reports, Senator Maggy Hier on the behalf of Treasurer Kasey Newman announced the new Diversity and Inclusion digital campaign. 

Each month, topics will be covered on SGA social media accounts, highlighting topics of gender and sexuality, racial discrimination, and disability awareness. Black History Month and 

Women’s History Month are to be included in this discussion. The purpose of this is to provide resources and education to the university community about these topics. 

“We have a plan to highlight figures throughout Black History Month. It is imperative that we highlight certain figures we do not hear about”  President Pro-Tempore Sophie Burkholder said. 

With no reports from standing committees, Vice President Bryce Hayzlett moved to discussing new business with the legislative body. Four resolutions were passed to clarify information in the SGA Constitution about attendance, impeachment, suspension and censures. The first focused on a resolution that would eliminate the repeat absence of senators causing quorum not to be reached for votes. 

President McDermott noted how this is a standing resolution as it edits the constitution and usually would need student body consensus for a vote. The referendum student body vote for this will be made during the regular spring SGA election period. 

The next resolution focused on temporarily removing senators who have absences from quorum so votes can still pass without the need for a lengthy and unnecessary impeachment or censure trial. 

The third resolution involved two parts. The first edits part of the constitution that talks about impeachment and makes it so that there can be a temporary suspension. The second part thus clarified that under the area for censure that matters of absence will now be made under suspension processes. These resolutions were motioned together, and both carried. 

Other open floor discussions to make note of is a point raised by Senator Simko regarding the effectiveness and use of the Point Alert Safety system. This question was directly addressed to Dean of Student Life and SGA advisor Michael Gieseke. 

Dean Gieseke clarified that a Point Alert is warranted when “an incident is currently going on within our area that would be a direct concern or threat to this campus. If by the time the university is aware of a situation and it is no longer a threat…then a Point Alert would not go out.” 

He added that usually a timely notification would go out, but that would be by email coming from either Chief Besong or Chief Black. He further recommends that Senator Simko and anyone else with concerns address the Point Park Police Department about this system and its use. 

In announcements, Recording Secretary Cole D’Alicandro mentioned how WPPJ 670 AM, of which he is General Manager, is hosting an informational meeting this week. Any student, staff, or faculty member can sign up for a radio show or podcast, by getting in contact with him or other executive board members. 

Executive Cabinet Members Treasurer Newman, Communication Director John Ziegler, Parliamentarian Zach Washington and Graphic Designer Kari Dettore were absent due to prior academic commitments. 

SGA will hold their next legislative body meeting on Monday, Feb. 1.