SGA Student Body Town Hall addresses student concerns
During the Student Body Town Hall, Mount Pleasant resident Matt Mertz spoke out on Central Michigan University's lack of an on-campus polling place and considers this a suppression of students' rights.
Hosted by the Student Government Association, the town hall on Nov. 29 in Charles V. Park Library Auditorium attracted 40 people, 12 of whom were members of SGA.
The town hall was livestreamed on SGA's Facebook page and drew in 483 viewers who were able to contribute to the discussion by providing questions anonymously via a Google link.
The panel consisted of four members of SGA's executive board:
- Anna Owens, president
- Derek Sturvist, vice president
- Mike DeGregory, treasurer
- Joshua Geary, press secretary
Mertz addressed the lack of a polling place on campus, noting it appeared students were being purposefully turned away from voting because of the difficulty in finding a polling place. Mertz questioned why CMU is the only university in the state that doesn't provide a polling place for students on campus.
"We have brought in the mobile Secretary of State to get people registered," Owens said. "So far, what we've been doing is pushing for more people registering to vote and voting absentee, stuff like that."
Senate Pro Tempore and event co-moderator Jake Hendricks gave insight on the confusion with polling places on campus, saying some students could arrive to the incorrect voting location due to a split of polling districts.
An anonymous question brought up the topic that students have reported issues with finding available parking spaces on campus and are wondering what SGA is doing to address the issue.
The general consensus of the panel cited finances as the reason for a lack of action from the university.
Senate Leader and event moderator Caroline Murray commented on student concern regarding parking, explaining SGA has a senator looking for alternative ways students can afford to pay parking tickets.
Another anonymous participant questioned why legislation passed by SGA takes a semester or more to be implemented at the university.
"Each piece of legislation is different, so each piece of legislation takes a different amount of time," Owens responded. "Some legislation takes a really long time because what we're trying to do is really difficult."
Owens went on to describe many meetings involved in passing the recent 24-hour library study room legislation through the Academic Senate, explaining although the legislation was implemented in a semester, that time span is relatively quick.
The panel also discussed the waitlist at CMU's counseling center and the quality of care students need.
The Academic Reorganizational Initiative's Committee Two is directly involved in developing ideas that may improve the quality of care at the counseling center, Owens said.
"A large focus is on staffing issues, especially during peak times such as midterms and finals," House Leader and committee member Drake Smarch said. "We are taking proposals, looking at solutions, and hopefully within the next year or so we will be able to start fixing these issues."
The panel commented on student interaction in SGA, with Sturvist reporting CMU currently has over 400 Registered Student Organizations on campus while only 100 of them send representatives to SGA meetings.
Owens said SGA's biggest goal next semester is gaining attendance from these absent RSOs.
"In general, we have to have as much representation (of the student body) as possible in our organization. That's a huge goal for us," she said.