SGA discusses tabacco, gun policies

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Tobacco policy, student affairs changes and complying with Kansas gun laws were among the many issues introduced at the Student Governing Association meeting Thursday.

Senators discussed a new timeline for introduction of a new tobacco policy. SGA will hold two opportunities for members of the public to express their opinions. The first is the “campus conversation” on Feb. 2 at 6 p.m. in the K-State Student Union Ballroom. The second is a live forum on Feb. 9.

Legislation is set to be introduced at the Feb. 11 SGA meeting and will be voted on at the Feb. 18 meeting, which will be live-streamed on SGA’s website.

A survey of about 2,500 people was conducted by the Division of Communications and Marketing to obtain public opinions on the tobacco policy. As of the Thursday SGA meeting, the survey had a 24 percent response rate after being released earlier in the week. The results of the survey will be announced at the Feb. 9 forum.

SGA also introduced legislation that would create a Student Senate Special Committee on Smoking and Tobacco.

Andy Hurtig, student body president and senior in accounting, said he would like to create a new academic affairs committee within SGA. Possible goals of such a committee, Hurtig said, would include adding a fall break in October, starting the spring semester a week earlier, creating a new midsemester TEVAL, implementing a new fee to improve advising and enhancing the career fair.

Joe Tinker, student body vice president and senior in psychology, said the enrollment management committee, which was started by President Kirk Schulz a year ago, has the goal of 1-2 percent growth in enrollment every year.

As a member of the financial subcommittee, Tinker said there has been discussion about new tuition models. One proposal could be flat-rate tuition, similar to the tuition models at Pittsburg State University and Oklahoma State University.

Such a model, Tinker said, could have a flat-rate tuition at the rate for 15 credit hours for any student who takes between 12 and 18 hours.

“I bet this will help graduation rates overall because I know lots of students are on significant financial aid and so can only take up to — you only want to take — 12 hours a semester, so you’ll be here for longer,” Tinker said. “So if we give students the opportunity to take more hours and pay less, I think that it’s going to be really beneficial for our graduation rates. It would also be a good source of revenue for the university.”

Hurtig said the university’s Weapons Committee will create five subgroups at the request of Cindy Bontrager, vice president of administration and finance. They will focus on special events, student life, academics, research and general services.

“The (Board of Regents) made the decision that they were not going to move forward with any efforts to repeal the law and no such efforts to extend the exemption or get any such exemptions for residence halls or anything,” Hurtig said. “So essentially we are now moving forward with our weapons advisory group here at K-State with the assumption that nothing will change, and as of July 1, 2017, we will have concealed carry on campus.”

Hurtig said the results of the student survey showed a majority of students were opposed to the law.

Tinker also spoke about diversity initiatives.

“We’re trying to create a social justice campaign that will incorporate all the academic student life initiatives as well as our human capital initiatives onto one thing, so we can kind of push one unified voice out about what’s going on at K-State regarding diversity right now and into the future,” Tinker said.

Tinker said the Office of Institutional Equity is seeking volunteers to create a “climate-response team” as a first-response organization to instances of racism.

Senators were told that the Manhattan City Commission will talk about rental housing at a Feb. 9 work session at 5 p.m. at City Hall. A rental housing inspection ordinance is expected to be discussed.

SGA approved the fiscal year 2017 allocations for the Educational Opportunity Fund budget. A total of 27 proposals will receive $370,000.

Tinker said the Green Apple Bikes bicycle sharing program may place five new bike racks on campus in addition to a few racks at the Bosco Student Plaza as part of SGA’s Green Action Fund.

Bill Smriga, director of the Union, said the Union will receive new furniture for the second floor next week. The old furniture will be given away. Smriga said those who are interested should contact him either Friday or Monday.

Garrett Kays, student body senator and senior in agricultural economics, said the Privilege Fee Committee will review its accounts with the Union and will tour the Union’s construction.

Senators commended the K-State Crops Team for winning the national Collegiate Crops Contest for the seventh year in a row.

SGA appointed two new senators. Ethan Stueve, junior in electrical engineering, was approved as a student senator for the College of Engineering. Mathew Grosdidier, junior in mechanical engineering, had previously resigned from the position. Denzel Jones, graduate student in human ecology, was approved as a student senator for the Graduate School. The position was previously vacant.

SGA will send 15-20 members to Topeka for a “Cats in the Capital” event on Feb. 17.

Amendments were proposed to the SGA constitution, statutes and bylaws concerning graduate student council elections, graduate student senator seat allocation and appointments and student senator seat allocation and appointments.

If the amendments are approved, they will not take effect until after the spring 2016 SGA elections.

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Jason Tidd
Jason Tidd graduated from Kansas State University's Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communication in May 2017. He was the spring 2017 editor-in-chief, fall 2016 news editor and spring 2016 assistant news editor. While at K-State, Jason played baritone in the Pride of Wildcat Land marching band.