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USG Brief

On Tues., March 26, the General Assembly (GA) of Case Western Reserve University’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG) held a different kind of meeting. This time, the GA had invited students not members of the USG to attend the assembly and voice their possible concerns about campus issues at an open forum while sipping complimentary coffee and snacking on tacos from Qdoba.
President James Hale opened the discussion by highlighting an op-ed article ran in The Observer, originally published in the CWRU House Mafia blog. The op-ed argued that the university is moving rapidly forward with an initiative for a completely smoke-free campus but is doing so for publicity rather than actually planning on its proper enforcement.

The issue prompted a long discussion where many GA members as well as guests spoke up both supporting and opposing the planned policy. Many attendees were concerned about an effective way to implement the policy and the possible ramifications for violators, which are currently next to nonexistent.

It was noted that the university does offer smoking secession programs for smokers interested in quitting their habit. Some suggested that before introducing a stricter smoking policy, the university should make these programs more visible and accessible for students.
The supporters of the policy argued in response that smoking on campus still does affect students and that numerous other colleges in the country have already adopted the smoke-free campus program. However, it was concluded that in a survey conducted last year by the USG, a majority of the students at CWRU thought the current policy to be sufficient.

The general consensus of the discussion was that the policy should not be circulating solely among the administration, as stated in the CWRU House Mafia article, but that the issue should be turned into a campus-wide conversation.

Another topic brought up in the open forum was one that has been discussed at the past few GA meetings as well. The Executive Committee asked feedback for a potential new practice where the Finance Committee would be consisted of appointed members, each representing a different caucus.

This reform would be a part of a new system where the Finance Committee would have the power to decide on funding independently without the need of the GA’s approval. With the current biweekly meeting schedule, student organizations have to wait for up to two weeks to get the final decision on their rolling funding applications. By expanding the Finance Committee’s authority, it was argued, the process would be faster and more convenient for student organizations.

Some expressed worries that appointed members would not necessarily be interested in finance issues and would consequently not serve the student organizations’ best interest. The supporters of the idea said that the new system would make the GA meetings shorter since funding bills would not be discussed anymore, which is already redundant as the GA usually approves any funding bills it is presented.

After the open forum, Elections Commissioner Tom Dooner presented the assembly the new Elections Commission, which the GA approved. He then introduced Bill B. 22-24, a bill to establish the number of representative positions for next year’s GA. According to the USG constitution, each caucus should have one representative for every 100 students, making the College of Arts and Sciences the largest caucus with 13 representative positions. Concerns were voiced about the lack of representatives for students with undeclared majors but no changes were made to the current system. The bill was approved with 91 percent affirmation.

Bill B. 22-25, a bill to establish the fall 2013 budget, was briefly discussed but tabled until the USG receives the final amount of money in the student activities fee funds. At the time of the meeting, the estimated amount was $165,000 with a rollover of approximately $100,000.

Bills B. 22-26 and B. 22-27, the recognition bill and the rolling funding bill, were approved with 97 percent and 85 percent affirmation, respectively. With bill B. 22-27, the Finance Committee allocated $6,231.74 out of the $7,810.23 requested.

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About the Contributor
Noora Somersalo, Opinion Editor
Noora Somersalo is a third-year English and chemistry double major currently serving as the opinion editor of The Observer. In the past, Noora has worked for the news section as a staff reporter. Noora is also a tutor on the SAGES Peer Writing Crew.
In her free time, she likes to drink coffee (preferably alongside some tasty treats), watch movies, and, when her finances permit, explore the Cleveland food scene.

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