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Student Government postpones amendment vote to prevent ‘voter manipulation’ and GRCC’s President Charles Lepper attends meeting

Student Government meeting with President Lepper on Oct. 16 (Kevin Lopez/The Collegiate)

On Oct. 16, Student Government held their bi-weekly town hall meeting where they discussed pool renovations, homecoming events, an amendment to the Student Government constitution, and asked guest speaker, Grand Rapids Community College President Charles Lepper questions.

The meeting began with updates from Student Government’s recent trip to Washington D.C where they mentioned how they want to implement ideas from the trip.

One of those ideas was adding a new amendment to the Student Government constitution designed to prevent clubs from engaging in “voter manipulation” where if multiple members of a club were to vote on their allocation request, it would count as one total vote.

It was a contentious discussion over the proposed amendment as multiple opinions were shared for and against the amendment as some felt that the new rule would make things more fair, while some felt the amendment would be limiting voting.

The vote on the amendment was ultimately postponed, but not before a lengthy discussion.

Sayroan Mohamed, a member of the Black Africana Student Union, said she felt that Student Government Vice President Michael Zazzo hadn’t responded to her concerns in regard to the amendment.

“For me, I didn’t feel like he answered my questions fully, I asked him several times and I don’t think he answered my questions,” Mohamed said. “I was just trying to get a solution to the problem, which is maybe we should have a max cap (for allocation requests) because he mentioned an example of what if the chess club requests $30,000 of the budget, which is unrealistic.”

Fellow member of the BASU, Marchelle Johnson, agreed.

“I feel like he was taking away the sense of Student Government,” Johnson said. “When he said the clubs could only have one vote, I do understand that Congress has one representative, but this is Student Government, which means if students are interested they are gonna come and support the organizations they want to support.”

Zazzo explained why  the amendment proposal was brought forward.

“I proposed the amendment plainly because I saw a clear and obvious opportunity for voter manipulation,” Zazzo said. “I’m looking at our budget this year compared to previous years and I’m worried that people are gonna be upset that when that money is gone, you are gonna rely on fundraising only.”

Despite the disagreement on the amendment, Mohamed was happy that the Student Government looked to expand upon the proposal based on all the opinions shared at the meeting.

“I’m glad that they are taking things into consideration and didn’t tell us no that our voices didn’t matter,” Mohamed said. “I just feel like they should be more prepared.”

With the many ideas and opinions shared, it was decided to postpone the amendment voting to better set the guidelines of what the amendment should look like.

“It’s very clear at this point that we need to go back to the drawing board and we need to think of something that is more amiable to everybody,” Zazzo said. “At no point we’re we trying to push anything through, but we have to have these conversations.”

Student Government agenda to “vote on Amendment” at Oct. 16. (Kevin Lopez/The Collegiate)

There was also a brief discussion of the pool renovation and the ideas of what could be put in place of the pool. It was revealed that Whitney Marsh, director of the Fieldhouse, and Victoria Janowiak, Executive Director of Operational Planning will be meeting to discuss ideas with students at the next town hall meeting.

A $320.50 allocation request for the Fitness Club was also passed as they were looking to cover five students’ registration for the Turkey Trot 5K and hire a personal trainer to lead and assist for the upcoming Lift Day.

The meeting ended with a visit from GRCC President President Lepper, who made an appearance to answer questions that were submitted by students.

One question was asked about GRCC’s plans for the Lakeshore campus.

“Time will tell us that,” Lepper said. “Right now we’re supporting about 825 students there, that building opened during the pandemic, so we’re evaluating what programs and what courses will be most successful there.”

There was also a conversation about having a mascot for GRCC and what even is a ‘Raider?’

“What I envision in terms of the process and having ideas and some samples, so people can vote on it,” Lepper said. “So there is input in the process. Whatever we end up with, then I think there has to be a process where we get input from our community and I think that involves our students, our alumni, the community as a whole, and our employees. I think people want something positive that represents the college.”

The next bi-weekly meeting will take place on Monday, Oct. 30 at Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall room 108/109 from noon – 2 p.m.

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