So far this year, the Student Government Association has passed five resolutions and one bill.
Malachi Petersen, an SGA senator, graduate student and former editor-in-chief of The Volante, sponsored two bills that dealt with new parents on campus.
The first was a resolution that supported the installation of baby changing stations in the men’s and women’s restrooms of the Muenster University Center.
“The only place where there’s currently a baby changing station here in the MUC is in the gender neutral restroom, and nobody really knows about it, either,” Petersen said.
Petersen said he got the idea for the resolution after hearing a comment from a woman at his church. She said she was disappointed that there wasn’t anywhere on campus, especially in the MUC, for her to change her child.
“She said that it was a little bit embarrassing because when she went to change this child, she would either have to go change the child on the sink in the bathroom or on a couch out here in the link and everyone would be looking at her,” he said.
While writing that resolution, Petersen said he looked more into resources on campus for new parents. He said another issue he had been hearing about was the lack of a lactation space for mothers to pump or breastfeed their children.
“I knew that there was at least one lactation space over on either the second or third floor of the Lee Medical building, but I didn’t know of any lactation spaces that were closer to central campus, specifically in the MUC,” Petersen said. “So I started looking and doing some research, and I couldn’t find anywhere on USD’s website that talked about any of these resources for parents either.”
Both resolutions were passed unanimously — the changing station resolution on Sept. 19 and the lactation space resolution on Sept. 5. Petersen said Teagan McNary, SGA’s president, and Kim Grieve, dean of students and vice president of student services, worked together and have already designated a lactation space upstairs in the MUC.
“In order to utilize that room, you just have to get it approved down here at the campus information center,” Petersen said. “You just go and ask them for the key and you can just go up there, unlock it, utilize the room for its purpose and then bring the key back down.”
As for the baby changing stations, Petersen said USD facilities management is still looking into how much they would cost and where they would be put. Petersen said Bob Oehler, assistant vice president of facilities managment, told him that process could take a week or two more.
Petersen said Grieve is working with other USD administrators to set up a page on USD’s website that will be a resource page for parents, so they’ll how to designate a lactation space, where lactation spaces and baby changing stations are.
Josh Anderson, vice president of SGA, said these resolutions are beneficial.
“We learned at our Student Federation meeting this past week that it’s something that other universities are doing as well, like the lactation spaces and changing stations, so I feel really good about those,” Anderson said.
Gaps in pay, scholarships
Josh Sorbe, a sophomore SGA senator, also sponsored two resolutions this year so far. The first one dealt with supporting equal pay for referees in the Summit League.
“In a nutshell, right now in the Summit League, men’s and women’s referees are paid a significantly different amount,” Sorbe said. “Men get, I think, about time and a half more than women even though attendance is nearly the same, rules and regulations are nearly just as complex. USD just saw this and our athletic director and everyone else in athletics administration really sought to kind of raise the red flag, just because in the world that we live in now we really pride ourselves on shrinking the wage gap and making sure that there’s equitable employment for all demographics.”
That resolution was passed on Sept. 26 and will now go to the Athletic Board of Controls, which is the governing body of the athletics department, Sorbe said. The board is made up of athletic administration, two SGA representatives and five faculty members.
“There’s just a lot of different people at the table with the same interest in mind to promote our athletics department, and this resolution kind of help builds the case that,” Sorbe said. “Not only does the athletics department see this as discrepancy, but because this resolution passed, the student body sees it as a discrepancy, too.”
The other resolution Sorbe introduced was related to South Dakota’s need-based scholarship program, which passed on Sept. 12.
“It’s nonexistent right now,” Sorbe said. “So definitely specifically to South Dakota, there’s a very large gap between what students need and what students have to attend four-year institutions. Right now Governor Daugaard is looking at creating Dakota Promise, which is a state, need-based financial aid program that has never been instituted in South Dakota before.”
Sorbe said the resolution is in support of the Board of Regents recommendation to Gov. Dennis Daugaard to put in his 2019 fiscal budget, which won’t come out until early 2019.
“With a need-based program, it really helps students who have great potential and are really able to strive at campus and at USD reach the potential that they can get without the interference of having to have two to three jobs to help fund their education,” Sorbe said.
Representation for all
McNary said these types of resolutions show the variety of students SGA represents.
“The fact that the senate has already passed a resolution in support of a comprehensive needs-based scholarship for the state of South Dakota just really shows that we have all students’ best interest in mind and we really want to make sure that we’re adequately representing all of our students,” McNary said.
McNary said the semester has been going well for SGA so far.
“We’re just kind of getting to the point of the year where we’re really starting to pick up and senators are bringing forth different ideas or pieces of legislation and we’re really kind of seeing the conversations kind of get started,” McNary said.