SGA looks for big changes with recreation center, U-Pass for students

By Dana Bitto

February 11, 2014

Instead of the Student Government Association asking what you can do for your student government, it seems like they are asking what would you like them to do for you.

On Jan. 21, SGA sent an email to all students entitled “What Has Student Government Done for YOU in the Fall Semester?” The body of the email included photos of the pool table in the Coughlin Commons with a before and after graphic to show students that SGA successful restored the old felt padding. The email also featured an invitation to the CTA U-Pass forum on Jan. 27.

This semester, the idea of Dominican students receiving a U-Pass has entered the planning stages, with SGA continuing to look for ways to start converting the Underground into a recreation center.

The email also included descriptions of the three new committees added to SGA this year to work towards facility, campus life and student involvement improvements. These committees are led by SGA senators and open to membership from any outside students.

“I personally have tried to accommodate students so they serve on their preferred committee,” Vice President of SGA Kristina Antol said. “However, this is not always an option. We have also created new ad-hoc committees that pertain to students’ individual interests.”

SGA President Berto Aguayo remains confident about the work SGA has done thus far this school year and says students have much to look forward to by the end of the year.

“There is great work happening in the committees and some of that great work will be reflected in our future forums,” Aguayo said.

A list of goals SGA was able to accomplish last semester included organizing its first intramural soccer league with almost 80 registered participants, refurbishment of the pool table in the Coughlin Commons and recognizing new on-campus clubs. This semester, SGA has yet to complete its biggest projects, including the proposed new recreation center and final U-Pass decision, leaving some students questioning what is truly being done for them and what they have to look forward to.

Carina Chiquito, junior and vice president of the Commuter Student Association, said that SGA’s plans are not very well publicized, making it difficult to be aware of what they are doing and if they are reaching their goals.

“I feel like they are trying, but not a lot is getting done,” Chiquito said.

Chiquito also says SGA’s recreation center plans have been poorly executed and taking longer than she thought they would.

“SGA publicized it as ‘yes, we are getting a rec center,’ but where is it?” she said. “I disagree with the idea, though, because it’s a bigger study area during finals and another place for students to relax. I don’t think it’s appropriate or fair for other students that go to the Underground for peace and quiet.”

Although it seems that changes to the Underground have become sluggish and stagnant, Aguayo assures they will be implemented in a timely fashion.

“We are currently continuing the progress we have made on persistent issues like the U-Pass. After that, Operation Recreation Center will be one of my priorities for the remainder of my term as president,” Aguayo said.

The U-Pass forum, an open event for all to discuss the possibility of DU students receiving the CTA pass, was originally scheduled for Jan. 27. It has since been pushed back to Feb. 17 at 5:00 p.m. in the Social Hall.

The U-Pass has become a highly debated topic in recent years, but Antol explains that the U-Pass is something that will affect all Dominican students and that anyone with an opinion on the topic should attend the forum.

“This forum is the first step in acquiring the U-Pass, or as a school deciding we do not find the U-Pass valuable,” Antol said. “It is a great opportunity to learn about the U-Pass and Ventra Card and how one will be affected by whatever choice is made.”

Although the U-Pass was meant to be a collaborative effort, Chiquito explains that the issue had not gotten the attention needed until this year.

“U-Pass was first talked about two years ago, when Marco Rodriguez was SGA president. It had started prior to school and continued this year because students reached out to CSA. After enough support, we worked with SGA,” Chiquito said.

Regarding the U-Pass forum, Aguayo remains optimistic that the meeting will bring a high student turnout and definite decision.

“The U-Pass is a hotly contested issue and we are taking action this year,” he added.