SGA moves Green Initiative Fund to USD Sustainability Committee
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SGA moves Green Initiative Fund to USD Sustainability Committee

The USD Student Government Association (SGA) passed a bill to move the Green Initiative Fund to the USD Sustainability Committee and a resolution to encourage the committee to adopt old guidelines in its meeting Tuesday. SGA also introduced a special appropriations bill to allocate funding to Yotes for Life for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

Senator Armand Khan reported the city of Vermillion will most likely be extending its mask order, and that Mayor Kelsey Collier-Wise signed a joint letter with 11 other cities calling on South Dakotans to wear masks and socially distance.

“There’s no clear direction from our governor and our state,” Khan said. “Health officials are very concerned, especially about hospitalization rates in Sioux Falls.”

SGA passed Senate Bill 63 to change the jurisdiction over the Green Initiative Fund. The bill moves the fund to the USD Sustainability Committee and appoints four senators as full voting members to the committee. Along with the bill, SGA passed Senate Resolution 7, which encourages the Sustainability Committee to adopt the Green Initiative Fund guidelines for applicant recommendations.

SGA President Abuk Jiel said the Sustainability Committee’s plans for the application process are far more put-together than what SGA had in its governing documents.

“In the past this fund has not been utilized to its ability,” Jiel said. “From what it sounded like, (the Sustainability Committee) are really excited about this.”

Anna Moore, campus recycling coordinator and member of the Sustainability Committtee, said she believes there is huge potential for the Green Initiative fund to lead to student-driven projects that have meaningful impact on campus.

“I think that the Sustainability Committee is a great group of people to be recruiting students to apply for this, to help students with their proposals, to help them develop their ideas into something that’s feasible for the campus,” Moore said. “That will have long-lasting impact.”

SGA introduced Senate Bill 64, a special appropriations request for Yotes for Life, an anti-abortion group on campus. The proposal would allocate $1,000 to the student organization for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Jiel raised concerns about the budget including funds for travel in the spring semester, which, with COVID-19 restrictions still likely to be in place, would not be feasible.

“I want to say I’m about 98% sure but the university and all Board of Regents universities right now are not traveling and these are student funds that we’re using for these trips,” Jiel said. “So it’s probably a best practice to reallocate that travel somewhere else within their budget.”

SGA also discussed a one-time savings plan to cut $100,000 from the overall budget due to a university budget shortfall caused by COVID-19. Aaron Mallinger, SGA director of finance, said the organization rolled over $233,000 into their account from last year due to the abrupt end to in-person activities on campus in the spring semester, in addition to their normal $389,000 budget. The proposal would drop money from the latter.

“Taking all that out, we still have a $58,000 budget in our SGA account, and that’s after paying for everything,” Mallinger said. “We would be totally fine.”