USG Brief

Sage Schaff, Staff Reporter

Case Western Reserve University Undergraduate Student Government (USG) had its longest general assembly meeting of the semester this past Tuesday, Nov. 16. Much like last week, the meeting focused on legislation and taking steps to fill open representative positions.

Before getting to the evening’s business, new university librarian Arnold Hirshon addressed the assembly about upcoming changes in Kelvin Smith Library (KSL). The most immediate revision of KSL’s layout will be a new café on the first floor. It is scheduled to open in conjunction with the beginning of spring semester. Hirshon also wants to expand the Freedman Center’s services, create a more welcoming atmosphere by redesigning the first floor, and convert the Flora Stone Mather reading room into a research commons. “I want to transform KSL into a vibrant, open, intellectual community center,” he said.

The assembly unanimously passed a bill establishing the USG budget for next semester. “It is estimated that the USG will receive approximately $151,000 for the spring semester 2011 in Student Activities Fee funds and have a rollover of approximately $10,000,” the bill says. Rollover comes from funding that student organizations don’t spend and is redistributed where it is needed. Representatives also introduced a bill to provide student organizations funding for the spring. Pending passage, the 134 organizations who submitted funding requests will receive $101,770 out of the $334,164 requested. This bill will likely be voted on next week.

USG also welcomed a new representative, Pam Falkenberg. The assembly elected Falkenberg as a College of Arts and Sciences representative. “As a transfer student, I feel that I can bring a fresh perspective to USG,” said Falkenberg, who triple majors in biology, gerontology, and political science. USG members considered her interdisciplinary academic interests a large factor in her election. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of camaraderie between departments at CWRU,” she said. She hopes to build upon her leadership experience from her previous university, where she founded a pre-law society and was president of its Christian Student Association.

During open forum, representatives debated about the financial aid holds that caused many students difficulty during the class registration process this week. Some called for email notifications about financial aid holds since they aren’t prominently displayed on the Student Information Services (SIS) website. Others countered that it is the students’ responsibility to take care of holds in advance of registration day to avoid any complications.

On a related note, CWRU is continuing discussions about need-based and merit-based financial aid with respect to international students. Vice-president of Academic Affairs Jared Hamilton explained that “currently, the University gives financial aid to 90 percent of students, none of them international. This is not sustainable.”

Finally, the assembly made special note that the Relay for Life kickoff event will be today, Nov. 19 in Thwing Atrium at 12:30. There will be free food, opportunities to become involved with Relay, and information on the latest cancer research.