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SGA Senate holds first meeting of the year

The Student Government Association held this year’s first meeting of the 53rd general assembly of the senate last Thursday, Sept. 2. The meeting consisted mainly of housekeeping without directly addressing any bills or proposals.

SGA President Dusty Dean opened the meeting with his executive report, outlining his vision for SGA this year.

Dean says that the objective of SGA needs to be “refocused” this year.

“A challenge that has plagued SGA for the past several years is the inability to shift focus away from its internal matters and focus on what is most important, the matters of the student body,” Dean said.

“I know how easy it is to become entangled in the counterproductive web of internal affairs.”

Dean went on to say that SGA should become more “united” in serving the needs of UTM students.

His goal is to stop arguing over internal and procedural matters and focus on the interests of students.

Dean presented what he called “the three I’s:” interaction, investigation and implementation to achieve his goal.

Dean also gave the senate a progress report of SGA’s strides since May. He said that the Student Activities Council and SGA are working more closely, communication with the student body is increased through improvements to SGA’s website and relationships with the administration and faculty are improving.

“This past week I jumped on a great opportunity to attend the faculty senate retreat, and this past July UT President Dr. John Peterson and I met privately. All these things are helping us to have a better relationship with our faculty and community leaders,” Dean said.

SGA Secretary-General Okwede Okoh presented the SGA budget update for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2004. The total amount allotted to SGA for the year is $35,000, of which $7,224.22 has already been spent.

This year’s budget includes $1,600 for SGA work-study student employees, $60 for staff benefits, $5,000 for SGA travel expenses, $2,600 for duplicating and communications, $1000 for “professional services,” $3,740 for operating supplies, $15,000 for awards, and $6,000 for special services, including entertainment, conference fees, and a Sodexho dining account.

Okoh said she will give a budget update monthly, but that “This is not set in stone. This will change next month.”

SGA advisers Dr. Katie High gave an adviser report praising SGA and UTM’s efforts. “There are a lot of exciting things going on on campus,” High said.

In a litany of achievements, High pointed to a record enrollment of 6,101 students, an average ACT composite of above 22 and the fact that the new apartment-style dorms will be “in the dry” by Dec. 15.

High also said that there could be problems; more students means more cars on campus, she said.

High also stated that there are possible changes coming to the UTM dining atmosphere.

“We have plans underway to change the food court and make it more like an outside café with awnings and more like a restaurant,” High said.

New business consisted primarily of procedural actions, including appointment of a vice president assistant and announcements.

SGA Vice President Elizabeth Craig stressed the importance of voting and that the week of Sept. 6 is SGA voter registration week. The assembly also accepted the resignation of Sen. Clarissa Porterfield, whose seat will remain vacant.

SGA Chief Justice Beau Pemberton swore in four new student justices to serve of the student court, which Pemberton says will be much more active this year.