USG visits with school president, revises its own constitution

Written By Sabrina Bodon

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President Paul Hennigan visited the United Student Government (USG) legislative body to discuss any concerns or questions they may have regarding the University at its meeting Monday afternoon.

Senator Melinda Harrison-Laster began by asking why students cannot work their Federal Work Study Jobs over Thanksgiving Break.

“There was an email sent out to the bosses saying that we can’t work during Thanksgiving Break because of the budget,” Harrison-Laster said. “I was wondering why the budget determine the hours we’re approved for?”

President Hennigan explained the budget of Federal Work Study is created well in advance and does not account for every student working their full amount of hours, “which means the original budgets will be exceeded.”

President of USG, Blaine King and senator Jake Berlin both asked questions pertaining the state of the Wi-Fi, specifically the network crashing during registration.

One solution President Hennigan offered was stretching the registration period out over a two week period. 

The last time President Hennigan spoke with USG was last semester where he described the process of the university’s strategic plan. At that time, he spoke about the environmental scan taking place which is now under review. The university’s strategic plan is in the process of being looked at by a strategic planning committee of the board.

“Our senior team right now is doing some work on it and we’re trying to figure out what our three to five strategic initiatives will be,” President Hennigan said. 

Though President Hennigan was at a standstill regarding information on the University’s strategic plan, he said he intends to return to a USG meeting early next semester in January to go through details and drafts.

“The next time I come back, in January if that is possible, I would like to come back with a draft of those strategic initiatives.”

“The board is ultimately responsible for approving the University’s strategic plan and we’re responsible for doing it,” President Hennigan said.

Other issues discussed with President Hennigan regarded tighter security (which was referred back to Chief Jeff Besong), the Pittsburgh Playhouse which will “hopefully” break ground within the next month,” and independent studies, which President Hennigan said should only be “under very special and unique circumstances.”

In reference to its previous meeting last week, USG made several rewrites to its constitution in regards to the advisory board. 

The constitution stated advisors must be appointed within the first two meetings of the year and there can only be “two additional advisors.”

The Advisor Legislation discussed and adopted this meeting now allows USG to hold five advisors, including assigned advisor, Dean Keith Paylo. At this meeting, both graduate assistant Andre Roberts and Kate Shipley were both appointed as advisors to USG.

USG also made rewrites to the constitution regarding funding. These changes reflect the new funding system of two funding periods within a semester rather than by term.

The changes outline that “all granted funds must be used by the student organization in the designated funding period” and “unused allocated [money] may not be carried over by any organization for use in subsequent funding period[s].”

During Senator Reports, senator Jake Berlin brought to the legislative body the results to a brief blind street survey he composed last week.

In this survey, he asked 22 students if USG should publish its documents online to receive a 100% yes vote. Bringing these findings to the legislative body, the senators voted for the Executive Cabinet and the Communication Committee to make this happen.

Berlin also asked these 22 students if they were able to name USG members, to which only two people were able to name members. With these findings, and by suggestion of other members of USG, Berlin hopes to make a broader reach to students by conducting more surveys with larger amounts of students.

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