Topics like parking, the student Supreme Court and changes to student health and wellness services dominated the conversation at the Student Government Association (SGA) town hall last week.
The evening began with a presentation by newly elected Chief Justice Alex Higginbotham. His focus was on the structure of the judiciary branch for SGA and its purpose and powers at UMKC.
Despite student health being the last topic on the docket for the evening, it generated the most questions and concerns from students. The proposed Student Health and Wellness Addendum would make the Health and Wellness fee (currently $4.45 a credit hour, capped at 12 credits) a flat fee as opposed to the current per hour system. This would increase the budget for the Health and Wellness Center and Counseling Services in the hopes of providing more services and resources for students.
The presentation on the redesigned fee included some rough estimates of how much money this change would bring in and a discussion on possibly raising the maximum amount of the current fee to increase funding even further. However, this information was not enough to satisfy some of the students attending the town hall.
Brandon Henderson, a political science major in his junior year, vocalized his displeasure with what he felt was a lack of information.
“I find it concerning that our SGA president does not have a plan for this counseling referendum that he wants the Senate to pass,” said Henderson.
Henderson said he would like to see the Student Counseling Services provide similar data to what was given for the library fee referendum passed last spring. The short time in which the proposal was brought forward in the SGA also concerned Henderson. “SGA is moving ahead of the counseling center,” Henderson said.
In response, SGA President Justice Horn said, “There is not a plan.” Horn said the speed of the Health and Wellness Addendum is equal to the urgency of the issue at hand. Citing what they felt was a pressing need, Horn and the other members of the SGA said they will continue to meet with counseling services to prepare an addendum that can appear for a student vote this spring.
Several of the attendees took an opportunity to ask Horn about the wages allotted to the executive board members. Students expressed concerns that the $6,000 wage is excessive given so many student organizations are either experiencing budget cuts or losing funding altogether. Horn agreed, stating, “I think $6,000 is a lot.”
Horn, along with Speaker of the Senate Emma Weiler, hopes to achieve a fairer compensation system for the whole of SGA in conjunction with an upcoming Student Activities Fee Committee reform.