Student government wraps up semester

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Student government wraps up semester

Ryan Quinn / Photo Editor

Ryan Quinn / Photo Editor

Ryan Quinn

Ryan Quinn / Photo Editor

Ryan Quinn

Ryan Quinn

Ryan Quinn / Photo Editor

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Ryan Quinn / Photo Editor

Ryan Quinn / Photo Editor

SGA addresses last orders of business before break

On Wednesday, Dec. 3, the Student Government Association held its final Senate meeting of the semester. The hour-long meeting wrapped up 2014 with a number of bills and a special presentation by Tim Hercules, the director of International Services at SLU.

Hercules discussed SLU’s international education activities, noting that the number of international students on campus—most of whom come from China—has increased in recent years to 973 undergrads in 2014. Despite this increase, Hercules stressed that one of his department’s goals aims to bring more graduate students from around the globe to SLU.

In addition to discussing SLU’s international community, Hercules also mentioned that the number of SLU students who study abroad (506 in 28 programs during the 2013-2014 academic year) has increased significantly since the 2007-2008 academic year (320 in 13 programs).  He added that the University has increased the variety of resources available to students who study abroad—many of whom have trouble re-adjusting to life in the States when they return from their overseas experiences.

In the question and answer session following Hercules’ presentation, many of the Senators expressed their gratitude for his work, but there were also questions concerning financial assistance for international students.

“When I have the opportunity of talking to some of our international students,” Hercules responded, “[they don’t know that] students are only eligible for academic scholarship if they take the ACT or the SAT. International students often do not take the ACT or the SAT.”

However, Hercules noted, “The University did, though, a few years back start… [to provide] need-based assistance for international students.”

Hercules assured his audience that SLU is working on making studying abroad available to all students, regardless of socioeconomic background.

“The University,” he said, “has been looking at initiatives at how we can provide additional support at the study abroad level, so that it is not just for the privileged who have the economic resources to study abroad.”

Beyond Hercules’ featured presentation, the Senate passed a pair of bills providing money to the Disability Service Club, and the Student Bar Association through the SGA Wellness Initiative—a fund which Vice President for Finance, Jaisel Patel, emphasized as being available to all students.

Vice President of Internal Affairs Drew Roznowski recognized Mike Degnan, one of two senators representing the College for Public Health & Social Justice, as Senator of the Month for his steadfast efforts in promoting the Tobacco Free SLU policy.

Following the meeting’s adjournment, SGA President Ann Knezetic spoke on the Tobacco Free SLU policy that figured prominently in this semester’s senatorial proceedings. “It happens organically,” she said, explaining that the policy passed last semester, but has yet to undergo an official follow-up procedure before implementation.

“It’s not going to be an overnight change,” Knezetic added. She cited President Pestello’s efforts toward a tobacco-free campus during his tenure as president of Le Moyne College. That initiative took two years to fully implement. SLU’s Tobacco Free policy will follow a similar trajectory, despite the fact the bill already passed, “the University would like to implement this policy in Fall 2015,” according to SGA’s website.

As for next semester’s horizons, Knezetic pointed out the Master Housing Plan construction, which is expected to begin in late December or early January. The project will require the closure of the Laclede and Spring Street entrances to SLU. Knezetic anticipates the disruptions in the wake of housing development will bring debate and campus-wide tensions to the SGA floor over the course of its Spring 2015 meetings.

Otherwise, any additional foreground issues can’t be predicted. “The Senate has its own agenda,” concluded Knezetic.