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President Gestring Delivers Semesterly Report at SGA Meeting

Enrollment records, budget priorities and housing concerns, were just some of the topics brought up by USD President Sheila Gestring during Tuesday’s SGA meeting. 

Gestring was the guest speaker at SGA’s meeting, sharing her semesterly report and asking for feedback from the association. 

Gestring announced the university’s fall enrollment numbers increased by 4% and broke international student enrollment records as well. Retention rates nearly hit 82%, meeting USD’s goal for the semester. 

The Charlie’s Career Closet initiative also took another step toward its expansion. The Woman and Philanthropy hosted the program’s first clothing drive last weekend and plans to have another in the spring semester. 

“I think that will be transformational for students. There will be opportunities to have ready access to professional clothing,” Gestring said. 

Gestring also discussed her 40 million dollar request in June to renovate four buildings on campus: the Union Building, Dakota Hall, East Hall and the remaining labs in Churchill-Haines. 

“That request is about 40 million dollars,” Gestring said. “I’ve asked the [South Dakota Board of Regents] for 20.5 million and the University of South Dakota would then match that with an additional 20.5 million.” 

Six senators also provided feedback on the SODEXO program and its operation. 

Following Gestring’s report, SGA moved to discuss three old business matters. 

First on the list was Senate Bill (SB) 84 “At-Large Process Act of 2022.” The bill, presented by senator Caleb Swanson, was seen for its final reading and passed. 

SB 85 “Codifying Legislative Action Procedure” and SB 87 “President Pro-Tempore Leadership Clarification” received their second readings. President Caleb Weiland reported minor grammatical changes to the bills, but nothing of the legislation’s substance was modified. 

Senator Katie Conzet shared two new special appropriations with the association. A motion to table SB 88 “Witches and Pagans Special Appropriation” was passed as no representative of the Witches and Pagans organization was present. 

SB 89 “Applied Artificial Intelligence (AI) Club Special Appropriation” would aid in providing operational, marketing, food and entertainment funds for the organization. The AI Club requested $700 with SGA allocating $300. SGA has $7,310 of special appropriation money left. The bill will be seen next week for its second reading. 

SGA’s next meeting will be held in the Freedom Forum at 6:30 p.m. next Tuesday. A Facebook livestream is also available.