President’s Breakfast Update

(From The Campus Lantern – October 29th, 2015)

The first President’s Breakfast of the semester was held Wednesday, October 28th at 7:15 a.m. in Hurley’s President’s Dining Room. The meeting, which was open to all executive board members of Eastern’s student organizations, lasted about an hour.

The first item on the agenda under Dr. Elsa Nunez’s report was the facilities update. Final inspections are being made in the new Fine Arts Instructional Building, and furniture and equipment will start to be moved in soon. It was confirmed that classes will be held in the building starting next semester. The total cost for the building comes to around $65 million.

As for the Communications Building and Goddard Hall, the university is currently negotiating design contracts with architects. The construction is scheduled to start in 2017 and finish in late 2019. Faculty offices will be displaced from the buildings for anytime between 18 months to two years. During the construction time, classes will likely be held in temporary trailers. The university is making it a priority to keep adequate space and resources for the Eastern radio and television stations.

Starting around Spring 2017, Shafer Hall will start to undergo renovations into loft-style apartments. The Harry Hope Theatre that is currently in the building will be transformed into a gym facility. There will also be a small café that serves breakfast in the renovated dorm for students who live in Shafer, Noble, and Burr.

Next up was an update about the Pride Center, a project which Dr. Nunez noted had been discussed heavily last year in Student Government Association meetings. The budget for the space, which is currently called the Pride Room, has doubled since last year. There is currently a Coordinator and two undergraduate interns in the Room. The proposed location for the Pride Center would be in the SGA Suite downstairs in the Student Center, in the vicinity of the Unity Wing. Construction for the Pride Center is scheduled to begin this summer, with the space opening to the public next August. The cost of the project is about $100,000. To view and discuss diagrams of the Center, be sure to attend the next SGA meeting on Monday, November 2nd at 3 p.m. in room 107 of the Student Center.

Possibly the most anticipated item on the agenda was a budget update. The President started off the update by noting how $3.90 out of every $10 that the university spends is paid for by the state. The rest of the money is paid for by Eastern students. In other words, about 40% of the university’s funding, which estimates to a total of about $130 million per year, is paid for by the state, while 60% is student-funded. Dr. Nunez made it clear that if there are ever safety concerns for students, the university will find a way to provide funding to best accommodate the situation. She also urged how important it is for students to be informed about the status of the budget and involved in budget discussions, especially including testifying at the Capital.

Enrollment at the university was also discussed. The numbers are up this year, with a total of 977 new enrolled freshmen. 11% of the freshman class is from the top 10% of their high school class, and 32% are from the top 25%. In total, Eastern has 4,267 full-time undergraduate students. Since there is a lack of funding from the state, enrollment serves as a primary basis for the school’s budget.

Subsequent on the agenda was winter preparations. There is high student concern for on-campus parking and the increase in faculty spots. The President reminded everyone at the table that the long-term goal is to transform Eastern into a green campus with perimeter roads and no parking lots on campus, solely garages. She addressed the complaint that there is not enough parking on South Campus by announcing that there will eventually be a parking garage replacing Low Rise. She also noted that the reasoning for the change in parking policies on the second floor ramp in Shakespeare was because there were 80 faculty and staff parking spots that used to be where the new Fine Arts building stands.

When talking about winter, it is important to put on students’ radars that there may be ice falling from buildings. The buildings do have snow guards, but it is impossible to stop this problem from happening due to the sloped roofs.  If students notice ice falling, and there are not yet barricades put up in the area, the President herself asks them call her office at (860) 465-5222.

Another hot topic discussed was the wireless internet on campus. Starting next week, the university will be moving Wi-Fi to new controllers and raising the bandwidth, so the connection should improve. In fact, the bandwidth is planned to increase from its current 1G up to 10G by January. The end goal is for students to be able to walk around the whole campus while staying connected to the Wi-Fi. Many students have complained about having issues with connecting their personal devices to the internet. If you are having problems with your connection, be sure to call the ITS Help Desk at (860) 465-4346 so they can assist you.

The breakfast ended with an SGA report and updates by the representatives from student organizations. To learn more about upcoming events put on by organizations, check the Online Event Calendar on Eastern’s website.

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Happening Now: SGA Spring 2015 Elections

(From The Campus Lantern – April 9th, 2015)

Elections for Eastern’s Student Government Association (SGA) are taking place now through April 22. SGA is looking for committed, professional, and analytical students to join the senate. It is required that SGA senators have a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Any class standing, both underclassmen and upperclassmen, can run for SGA. This year, in order to best represent Eastern and to diversify the mentalities that contribute to the senate, SGA wants to reach areas of campus that may never have considered running for senate positions before.

SGA serves as the voice for all students on campus and prides itself in being an inclusive and welcoming group. Executive board officers are elected annually by the student body, and all senators must run for re-election through the student body each academic year.

Each SGA senator is required to attend general board meetings on Mondays at 3:00 PM. Members are allowed to leave for classes at 4:00 PM if need be. Senators must also complete two office hours in the SGA Suite, located in the lower level of the Student Center. These office hours are not meant to be a burden to the senator, but instead serve as a way to connect with other students who may be in the SGA Suite.

In addition, each senator is required to serve on a standing committee as well as an external committee where they will interact with administrators and faculty. Standing committees are located within SGA, and include Internal (which deals with SGA affairs, such as coordinating teambuilding programs), Student Issues (which deals with solving concerns that affect the student body, such as food in the dining hall or keeping tuition costs down), Public Relations (which deals with promoting SGA and the other clubs and organizations on campus), and Budget and Management (which deals with managing the budgets of the clubs and organizations at Eastern). Examples of external committees include, but are not limited to, the Curriculum Committee, the First Year Program Committee, and Support Services Committee.

There will be fourteen open senator positions this round of elections. Ten senator positions are held open for fall elections to reserve spots for incoming freshmen and transfer students, as well as upperclassmen who would like to run. Students have until April 12 at 11:59 PM to fill out applications to be a part of SGA. Applicants must include a short personal statement explaining why they would best represent Eastern’s student body and a professional picture. The application can be found online at www1.easternct.edu/studentactivities/sga/elections.

Applicants will be nominated at the April 13 SGA meeting. Once nominated, applicants can start the campaigning process to gain votes. The official campaigning period will take place from the day of nominations through April 22. Students running for SGA must follow a set of campaign conduct guidelines, including only posting flyers and promotional material on authorized bulletin boards on campus and not being derogatory towards any other candidate, among other guidelines. Applicants will be emailed the complete list of campaign guidelines once their application is submitted.

The voting period will take place online from April 20 through April 22. Winners will be determined by majority vote. If there are no irregularities after 72 hours of the winners being determined and notified, the elections will be official and valid. Any violations, including not following the campaign guidelines, will be investigated by members of the SGA Elections Committee at their discretion.

“SGA offers an incredible opportunity for individuals to develop as informed leaders at Eastern, members of SGA have the ability to make significant impacts on the culture of our campus,” stated Matthew Hicks, the current President of SGA.

If you have any more questions about SGA, the elections process, or if you just have comments about Eastern in general, SGA can be reached by email at SGA@my.easternct.edu. SGA can be found on Twitter and Instagram with the username @SGAEastern, and on Facebook at “Eastern SGA.” Senators are usually located in the SGA Suite at all times of day, so students can stop by to talk about SGA anytime.

SGA meetings are Mondays at 3:00 PM in room 107 of the Student Center. Students are welcome to come to meetings to share their voice with the senate and to ask any questions they may have.

Good luck to all students who will be running this election period! Students who are not running: Be on the lookout for campaign posters and be sure to check your email and vote to pick your student body representatives between April 20 and April 22!