SGA kicks off 2020 with new developments in tech, public safety and fundraising

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SGA kicks off 2020 with new developments in tech, public safety and fundraising

Gerardo Aguilera | @jerry21aguilera and Madison McLean | @MadisonMcLean3

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The Student Government Association (SGA) kicked off the new semester with a series of resolutions on the agenda: robots, drug disposal and a new way to fund programs.

DELIVERY ROBOTS

Imagine having Subway delivered right before your next class. With the passage of a new resolution, the SGA and the University of Alabama’s Division of Finance and Operations are hoping to make that happen.

But, here’s the catch: You might have to stoop a little lower to sign the check.

Through a partnership with Starship Deliveries, robot delivery would allow students to order food at the Ferg and have it delivered to their location in a matter of minutes: 

“We are hoping to start with around 40 robots,” said SGA President Harrison Adams, who authored a resolution with Senator Royce Dickerson to robot delivery to Bama. “If they see a need where a lot of students are requesting it, we could order more.”

The robots, which will soon be available at Mississippi State University and other colleges across the country, would be available for delivery anywhere on campus. Students will always be busy between their homework, classes, and extracurricular activities, some may not be able to walk across campus and grab a quick snack. 

With these new robots, students would have to pay a flat rate of $1.25 extra to their meal, and a robot will have their food delivered to any location on campus. 

“I may be sitting at my dorm doing an assignment, and I know that Chick-fil-A is going to close at 6:30 and I don’t have enough time to get there and back and finish my assignment that is due at 7,” Adams said. “I can just call the robot to bring it to my dorm, and I can finish my assignments on time”

NEW SGA POSITION

If passed, a new amendment to create the Director of Strategic Initiatives will bring change to the SGA constitution during this upcoming election and bring more dollars to fund student programs.

Adams wrote this new constitutional amendment to increase funding for SGA so that they in turn will have the resources necessary to go about completing tasks and projects to give back to students, faculty and staff. 

The student who holds this position will be responsible for looking for grants at the state and federal level to help fund the different cabinets throughout SGA. According to the 2020 SGA budget, each branch in charge of facilitating initiatives and programs for the general student population, such as external affairs, student affairs, academic affairs and diversity, equity and inclusion, is allotted $2,300 for the fiscal year. 

Caitlyn McTier, chief advisor to the SGA President and director of Beat Auburn Beat Hunger, knows what impact this opportunity could have, as she recently received a $25,000 grant to help fund food insecurity projects.

“This is a unique opportunity as Caitlyn has done a lot of work getting that grant,” Adams said. “$25,000 is more than every VP’s budget individually, and she got that for one program.”

As the school year goes on, students, faculty and staff will bring different causes and concerns to the SGA. This new branch would be able to fund any other branch that may need the money to create or continue their projects without taking a huge toll on their cabinet’s budget. 

“Sometimes when we want to give a lot of money to something like ‘mental health’ or do something that’s really impactful that takes a lot of money a lot of the times,” Adams said. “Sometimes that’s not in the cards, because we don’t have the money within our budget, or it takes up our entire budget for someone for the rest of the year.”

PRESCRIPTION DRUG BOX

Students now have a safe and easily accessible way to get rid of their expired or unneeded prescription drugs.

The first prescription drug box on the University’s campus was installed this year due to the efforts of Brooks Payne, the SGA vice president for external affairs, and Katie Arrington, the SGA director of environmental affairs. The box is located on the first floor of the Ferguson Center near the Black Student Union and SupeStore book pick-up and drop-off location. 

According to the National Council on Patient Information and Medication, around 54% of college undergraduate students have been asked to sell, trade or give away their prescription drugs in the past year. Last year’s report from The National Institute on Drug Abuse stated “the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths increased significantly in Alabama by 11.1% from 2016 … to 2017.” 

Payne said a major focus for him this year has been on the prescription drug crisis as it relates to an individual’s mental health, especially in college students. As a way to combat this issue, he helped initiate the prescription drug box as an easy and free way for students to get rid of their unwanted prescription drugs. 

“I believe the drug problem is big, not just on this campus but campuses all over, and I think it’s big that we recognize that there is a problem and there is a way to fix it,” Payne said. 

Anyone can bring their expired or unneeded prescription drugs to the prescription drug box at no cost, and they will be collected once a month by the Tuscaloosa Police Department. 

SGA Senate meetings are open to the public and begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Ferguson Forum room every Thursday. For more updates, follow @uasga on social media.