Tensions rise as ASG discusses Wise Center modifications and security cameras

Tension rose at Allegheny Student Government’s weekly general assembly meeting when discussions about security cameras on campus and issues with the new weight room in the David V. Wise Center unfolded.

With no guest speaker, ASG’s general assembly began with cabinet reports at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, in the Henderson Campus Center room 301/302. 

Director of Communications and Press David Roach, ’21, commenced his report by announcing that the “How to: GA” video created by his committee will be debuting Thursday, Feb. 6, and that the ASG website will soon be updated to include new cabinet members. 

Shortly after Roach, Co-Director of Student Affairs Genesis Pena,’ 22, read the Diversity and Inclusion report, disclosing that Taylor Marzouca, ’20, director of diversity and inclusion, had nominated two ex-officios, Patricia Gaxiola, ’21.and Diana Zyanya Phillips, ’23. Both of the nominees were approved as ex-officios by the senate. 

Following Pena, Director of Community Relations Owen Jacobsen, ’23, announced that he was also nominating two ex-officios: Gabby Miller, ’20, former director of community relations, and Rahwa Weldemichael, ’23. Both Miller and Weldemichael were approved.

To finish his report, Jacobsen said he sent out an email to both City Manager Andy Walker and Deputy Mayor Larry McKnight as an invitation to host a discussion about how the college can strengthen its relationship with the Meadville community. 

Following Jacobsen, Attorney General Brandon Zabo, ’22, revealed in his report that the Allegheny Socialists Club obtained an adviser and therefore the Senate would be voting whether or not to pass them for their second week. 

Following the Senate’s vote, Allegheny Socialist Club was approved for a second week. 

Succeeding the vote, Chief of Staff Jared McHale, ’20, announced that the Finance and Facilities Committee would be looking to make improvements to campus buildings and roads. 

“They’re going to look at the (uneven road) in front of Baldwin (Hall); just general maintenance, updating electrical panels.” McHale said. “There’s also going to be a resurfacing of the performance area in the Wise Center.”

To conclude his report, McHale stated that the Curriculum Committee is planning on having a discussion about moving Gator Day to line up with Election Day in the next faculty meeting. The committee is also considering shortening finals to two hours, though the discussion is still in its preliminary stages. 

Pena announced that the Indigenous People’s Day Resolution was unanimously supported and that the Honor Code is officially up for vote this semester. 

“Talk to your constituents, educate yourself and educate others,” Pena said following her Honor Code announcement. 

Co-Director of Student Affairs Kelsey Evans, ’20, completed the report by adding that they had talked with Title IX Coordinator Gillian Ford and Why Not Us about collaborating for an event in the future. 

“We’re looking at maybe some self-defense training or rape culture education, things like that,” Evans said. 

After a few more cabinet reports, ASG moved into class reports. Reports included Class of 2021 announcing that they would be raising money for the Crawford County Special Olympics and Class of 2022 organizing a spring event for a mental health-themed chalk walk. 

“We were hoping to do it around finals,” President of the Class of 2022 Kathryn Phillippe said. “So maybe if that does happen we would (write) ‘good luck on finals,’ ‘you’re going to do great,’ things like that.” 

Following class reports, Elyse Cinquino, ’20, made a short announcement in her vice president’s report reminding the attendees that ASG has not yet used the Student Action Fund of $10,000 for this year and encouraged them to think about possible uses the money could go toward. 

Next, President Jason Ferrante, ’20, announced in his president’s report that Faculty Nomination Awards are available on MyAllegheny, and that the nomination window closes on Feb. 14. Ferrante also reported that the opening act for the major concert will be announced as soon as possible and that Springfest dates are set for April 3 and 4. 

Moving into unfinished business, Director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs Caitlin Lord, ’20, stated that they were planning on making a pledge to reduce greenhouse gases caused by food consumption. 

Following Lord, Ferrante announced that he had a meeting with Director of Athletics and Recreation Bill Ross and Director of Recreation and Facilities Jared Luteran to address concerns about the new weight room in the Wise Center. 

“The physical therapy equipment is being moved into (the varsity weight room) so non-varsity athletes will not be permitted to be in that weight room unsupervised,” Ferrante said.

Ferrante then clarified that varsity athletes will not be allowed to use the new weight room. 

“(Ross) told us that if you see (varsity players in the new weight room), tell their coach and try to remind them that we have a designated space for each side now,” Ferrante said. 

However, some members expressed concerns. Roach said the varsity weight room is often locked around 4:30 p.m., forcing varsity athletes to use the new non-varsity weight room. 

Vice President of the Class of 2020 Ashley Leonard also weighed in on the issue, saying that it could possibly promote social issues between students. 

Ferrante ended the discussion by reminding the attendees that they can email their concerns to Ross and Luteran. 

“They need to hear from students in order to make these changes, and we might even consider bringing them back in to have a face-to-face conversation,” Ferrante said. 

Additional concerns were voiced when Ferrante announced that security cameras are going to be installed on campus by the end of the spring semester. 

“(Video cameras will be placed by) exterior facing residence hall doors only,” Ferrante said.  “They’re not going to be in your residence halls. They’re most certainly not going to be in your rooms. That’s a huge invasion of privacy.”

Attendees once again voiced their concerns on the issue, some saying that the cameras should only be used in the instance of a violent occurrence. 

“If they’re going to be installed regardless, we have to have a very specific policy that they are only used to protect students from violent attacks,” said  senator Quinn Broussard, ’22. 

Ferrante said there is a concern if public safety is not allowed to access the tapes, but assured the attendees that there will not be constant surveillance. 

“(Constant surveillance) would require so much staff and a wall of cameras that I don’t think we have the resources for,” Ferrante said. “That could be a policy to push, if there is an incident then the tape is pulled.”

After closing the discussion, ASG moved into new business and made a few announcements about possible changes to meal plans in the future. The meeting came to a close at 8:03 p.m.