ASG discusses lack of storage, COVID-19 cases

Allegheny Student Government discussed lack of storage for international students and COVID-19 cases at the college during its weekly general assembly. 

With no guest speaker, ASG’s general assembly began promptly with cabinet reports at 7:35 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, via Zoom. 

Chief of Staff, Emma Godel, ’21, began her report by thanking students for voting and helping to organize the voting efforts at the college last Tuesday, Nov. 3.  Godel also discussed constitutional changes, the ASG election and application process that will be occurring during the spring semester.

During Director of Finance Noah Tart’s, ’22, report, ASG approved of the 2020-21 budgets, including the surplus, general and speaker funds. 

Following Tart, Director of Organizational Development Bennett Westfall, ’23, announced that he made a new template for general assembly agendas, including a Google document with motions and votes made during the meeting and their results. 

After Westfall, Co-Director of Student Affairs Genesis Pena, ’22, reported that Public Safety has a mandatory confidentiality agreement regarding any activity with the security cameras around campus. 

“(Public Safety and I) talked about some of the benefits (of the security cameras besides campus safety),” Pena said. “Say you’re locked out of Baldwin and you don’t have your key card, they can look at you through the cameras and they can remotely let you in. So they can cue in from the cameras instead of you waiting outside for X amount of time.”

Director of Communications and Press Bree Gray, ’23, announced that she collaborated with The Office of College Relations to create ASG-themed Instagram gifs. Gray is also creating a move-out checklist and starting remote student success vlogs for those students who have not experienced taking classes remotely.

Following Gray, Director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs, Willy Walker, ’22, reported that a green box and token return day will occur in the spring semester. 

“We’re going to have things like prizes and stuff through (Sustainability Coordinator) Kelly (Boulton’s) office and just little things to kind of help boost people to return their stuff,” Walker said. 

Walker finished his report by saying that a Sustainability Sunday series will be hosted on ASG social media accounts to highlight sustainability on campus and give tips and suggestions. 

Vice President Patricia Gaxiola, ’21, advised senators to be cautious in the remaining two weeks on campus due to the rising COVID-19 cases at the college and in Crawford County. 

Following Gaxiola, President Abdikadir Lugundi, ’21, announced that he and Gaxiola will be attending a meeting with President Hilary Link and plans to discuss issues about travel and storage for international students. 

Lugundi concluded his report by announcing that he and Gaxiola will also be attending a Culture, Identity and Leadership Coalition meeting to strengthen their relationship with ASG.

After Lugundi, ASG moved into new business. 

Tart and Pena discussed the importance of becoming familiar with Robert’s Rules as a senator, primarily in terms of carrying out meetings in efficient ways. 

“It’s important that, you know, you learn it because once the upperclassmen leave, you have to teach the next class and the next class and so on and so on,” Pena said.

Following that, Tart and Senator Lucas Biniewski, ’23, discussed the lack of cost-effective storage for international students over the three-month winter break. 

“The school has refused to provide storage for those few months in which the students who are international won’t be on campus, and even so, most of them can’t even go home,” Tart said. “So meanwhile all the domestic students can just take their belongings home and yet we have left our international family out to dry.”

Tart reported that he believes that by refusing to provide storage, the college is violating three of the goals of the Dean of Students and the Community Guidelines. 

Savannah Hunt, ’21, a student from Hong Kong, China, explained the issues that international students face during the pandemic and requested to use the International Club’s ASG budget to cover storage costs. 

“This is now twice a year that they have to pay for roughly $60 storage per month,” Hunt said. “So that’s six months out of the year that they have to store their belongings and at the very least, since they’re worrying about physically where they’re going to be (when the fall semester ends), we should at least alleviate that stress.”

A five-minute moderated discussion was opened about the topic. ASG Advisor Matthew Bocchi explained that allocating funds to specific students is not allowed through the Student Activities Fee. 

“There are legal ramifications to aid packages if students are given more money and so there are just a lot of logistical hurdles that we need to overcome, even if this was approved,” Bocchi said. “So just please keep that in mind that there are some things that legally we just can’t do.”

After some more discussion about the possibilities for storage for international students, Tart started an Ad Hoc Committee for finding storage space for international students. 

Following that discussion, ASG began a discussion about administration being transparent about COVID-19 cases. 

Walker explained that he believed that the Allegheny website is not being as transparent about new COVID-19 cases as it was in the beginning of the semester. 

“We used to have the big COVID-19 tab, right?” Walker said. “As you click on the homepage, it is no longer present and like most cases with the Allegheny website, I had to comb for it in order to find it.”

Gray proposed that ASG put the active COVID-19 cases number on the ASG website. Binewski disagreed. It is the administration’s responsibility to post accessible, transparent COVID-19 case numbers, Binewski said. 

“This is the responsibility of the administration,” Binewski said. “I think this is once more testimony to the failure of leadership that we’re seeing this semester and I think we need to start holding them accountable because the students hold us accountable, but it seems right now that the students’ voice is not being heard and the administration is not being kept accountable.”

The meeting was adjourned at 9:21 p.m.