Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

President Bahls informs SGA

President Bahls made an appearance at the March 31 Student Government Association (SGA) to discuss the possible loss of Monetary Award Program (MAP) Grant of Illinois funding. Three campus organizations also asked for contingencies: Augie International, the Vietnamese Student Association, and Greek Council.
President Bahls’ meeting with the SGA covered both diversity and the possible loss of MAP Grant Funding. He began by discussing a statement made about inclusiveness and diversity at Augustana. He wanted all students to think about diversity and inclusiveness at Augustana, and to consider those that think differently than you and embrace diversity.
He offered some criticism about the college and its relatively small amount of faculty that were people of color, and that he and other staff were planning ways to make the faculty more diverse.
President Bahls moved on to MAP Grants, which is a grant of about five-thousand dollars for Illinois residents to go to college. This is money that is promised to students and is guaranteed to them, and this is a program that about one in four of students at Augustana are beneficiaries of.
Recently, because of political issues, nobody is sure that the MAP is going to be funded this year, regardless of the fact that the money has been promised to so many students.
On the topic, President Bahls said, “It is a shameful situation, in Illinois, that college students are being used as pawns in an epic battle between [the governor of Illinois] and the Speaker of the House.” Speaking directly to the SGA, he added, “I would ask you now, that if you are ever elected to a political office, you do not let your ego get in the way.”
President Bahls continued on the matter related to college students who rely on these funds, making clear that the college will forgive any students who were guaranteed this money by making changes within the college. Guaranteeing this money for current students, as well as incoming students (who have also been promised this money), means the college will have about $3.2 million dollars in expenses to make up for.
This means that Augustana will have to reduce their budget by about 5%. That means that they are doing their best to reduce the effects that this can have on student experience.
Things they are considering includes transitioning to a semester system, which would help reduce costs and align the school with almost every other college. One large benefit of the semester system would be that the college could accept far more students from community colleges and other transfers, making, as reported by President Bahls, “tremendous financial benefits for Augustana college.”  Regardless, these changes would not take place for several years, only taking place based on a vote from the faculty.
Lastly, President Bahls and his cabinet will be taking a pay cut starting next year, as well as freezes on salary for faculty (except for those on the very bottom of the pay scales). This includes postponing building projects and other budget cuts. This would help the college manage the funding issues and help get students through school without any more debt.
He ended talking about ideas, such as freezing the cost of tuition at Augustana, showing concern for the price of college.
“We are getting pretty expensive here at Augustana,” said President Bahls, “and we need to be concerned about costs at Augustana.”
Augie international was looking for funding of their Holi event, which is a festival of colors that is celebrated in the springtime in India. Augie International was looking to host the festival on April 23rd. The event would have a charge of somewhere between five to ten dollars for students, which would get a student colors, food, and a bandana.
Since it is not a free event, any profit made by Augie International would be donated to a charity that helps build and maintain wells in Africa. Last year, they managed to donate about one-thousand dollars.
They were requesting about four-thousand dollars from the SGA, not only for the Holi event, but also for funding for Augie International for the end of the year. To help make money, they had already done fundraising events and are considering some bake-sales to help promote the event.
They had gone to Office for International Student Life, but they had been nearly tapped out for funding.
After a quick vote, the SGA agreed to grant Augie International the full four-thousand dollars.
The Vietnamese Student Association (VSA), which began forming about two months ago, was looking for funding.
The leaders of the VSA had noticed that the Asian Student Organization, although important, had not represented the Vietnamese students as well as they would have liked. They had claimed that they were the most under-represented minorities on campus.
The VSA made a point that there was a large population of Vietnamese students, that made up about one-third of the international student organization (with about 40 Vietnamese students on campus).
After there presentation, there was some disagreement in the SGA about whether or not Augustana would want to allow the VSA to become separate from the Asian Student Organization. There was question about why the VSA had not gotten any funds from the ASO and whether they wanted to fund the VSA when it had not interacted with other Augie groups yet.
After long debate, they agreed to grant the VSA only five-hundred dollars, allowing them to exist as a new Augustana group while also pushing them interact with other Augustana groups for the rest of their funding.
Regarding the new VSA, SGA President David Sommers said, “We funded the club because we believe in what they are doing, and we believe they have a voice on campus. The money we granted them reflects that.”
Sommers included, however, “we want to encourage [collaboration], which is why we didn’t grant them the full amount. We wanted to encourgae them to work with the Asian Student Organization.”
The last contingency was made by the Greek Council, which would be hosting a self-defense event on campus on April 16th at 3:30 pm at PepsiCo. This event would be open to all students for a small charge, with all funding going towards the self-defense speaker.
After short questions, the SGA granted the group nine-hundred dollars to host the event.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Augustana Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
President Bahls informs SGA