SA Senate calls for increased graduate student housing

The Student Association Senate passed a bill calling on the university to improve graduate housing and voted to confirm candidates for the executive cabinet.

After officials announced late last month that they planned on selling the Aston, which has housed law students since 2007, the SA Senate unanimously passed the Graduate Housing Disappointment Act and reiterated its plea for officials to provide multiple options for graduate student housing. The SA Senate also voted to confirm Student Association President Christian Zidouemba’s chiefs of staff, legislator general and executive secretary of internal affairs, but rejected the proposed communications director candidate.

SA Sen. Cody Ingraham, Law-G, who sponsored the Graduate Housing Disappointment Act, said the University never acknowledged that it received an act passed by last year’s senate that also called for increased on-campus housing for graduate students. Ingraham said university housing is preferable for low-income students because they can use federal loans to pay for housing, rather than finding new payment means like a bank or familial loans.

“This Act calls on the University to consider options for offering on-campus graduate housing as soon as possible and to bring graduate student leaders to the table to discuss options that will raise the standard of graduate student life higher on our campus,” he said.

Senators voted 17-1-1 to approve Zidouemba’s chiefs of staff, legislator general and treasurer.

Senators also confirmed Zak Zethner, Zidouemba’s executive secretary of internal affairs 16-2-1, but they failed to confirm Aiza Saeed as communications director 13-5-1, missing the two-thirds majority required.

Zidouemba said he plans to add an executive secretary of graduate student and academic affairs to better represent students as he continues to nominate cabinet members. He said the addition of these two positions in exchange for smaller positions previously within the cabinet further decreases the size of his already historically small cabinet.

“More broadly, this cabinet structure will help reduce the overall size of the cabinet,” he said.

SA Vice President Yan Xu thanked Dean Cissy Petty and Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Mark Diaz for their service to the University after they announced their planned retirements at the end of the month. He said he has reached out to the deans of graduate schools and sub-schools to fill the 23 current vacancies in the SA Senate.

“Many of them, I would say half of those deans or directors already replied,” he said. “And they said they will send out communication as soon as possible to encourage graduate student apply for senate and other kinds of nomination we have open for those students.”

The SA Senate unanimously approved the Dean Petty Appreciation Act, sponsored by Executive Vice President Xu. The Act outlines Dean Petty’s various responsibilities and accomplishments, thanks her for “more than four years” of service and wishes her well in future endeavors.

The next senate meeting will be held June 13 at 8:30 p.m. over Zoom.

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