SGA passes resolution supporting Aramark renegotiations

Nicole Ziege

The Student Government Association unanimously passed resolution to support the renegotiation of the Aramark contract that would increase student dining fees up to $350 within the next 10 years.

Resolution 3-18-S proposed supporting the renegotiation of the 20-year contract with Aramark, which includes a per-semester fee for all full-time students not on a meal plan in order to help fund Garrett Conference Center renovations. The contract was signed in March 2017 by former president Gary Ransdell, according to the resolution.

“This is really important just because of student representation in decision-making processes, especially in regard to fees,” SGA President Andi Dahmer said at the meeting.

Dahmer wrote the bill with Executive Vice President Savannah Molyneaux, Administrative Vice President Kara Lowry and Chief of Staff Conner Hounshell.

The initial dining fee of $75 was implemented in fall 2017 “without sufficient education of students and was not well received,” according to the resolution. The fee would increase to $150 next semester, then to $300 within the next year and $350 within 10 years.

Over the course of a student’s four-year academic career, this could increase the cost of attendance by $2,800, according to the resolution.

Dahmer said the extra $2,800 was unnecessary for students. She said she does think that $75 or $150 is reasonable, but she said she felt $300 to $350 was too much.

“I simply feel that that is an excessive amount over a student’s 4-year career,” Dahmer said.

Dahmer said she was a member of SGA Senate last year and does not recall the contract being brought to SGA to be discussed. Dahmer said it was also never brought before the full Board of Regents.

“I just think, due to this lack of transparency, it’s very important that we don’t continue to pursue a $300 to $350 fee,” Dahmer said.

However, Dahmer said she does not think that the contract should be thrown out completely.

“I think the contract as it stands could be beneficial, but it should not be $350,” Dahmer said.

The Senate also voted on a bill that proposed amending the SGA Constitution to replace two at-large senator positions and one graduate student senator position with first-generation, transfer, non-traditional and Intercultural Student Engagement Center (ISEC) senators.

Hounshell said the goal of the bill was to increase representation in SGA. Hounshell co-authored the bill with SGA senator Lucas Knight.

“I think these perspectives are very valuable,” Knight said regarding first-generation, transfer, non-traditional and ISEC students. “Their voices need to be heard.”

SGA senator Amanda Harder proposed amending the bill to include definitions of what Hounshell and Knight considered to be non-traditional students. Hounshell declined the amendment.

SGA senator and first-generation college student Dallas McKinney said it was important to have the broad categories in the bill.

“It would really help provide perspective,” McKinney said. “I highly recommend this bill and I hope the Senate passes it.”

Campus Improvements Committee Chair Garrett Edmonds said he did not think there needed to be a special seat for first-generation, transfer, non-traditional and ISEC students.

Public Relations Committee Chair William Hurst agreed with Edmonds.

“Instead of changing the Constitution, we need to work as a PR committee to reach out to those people,” Hurst said against the bill.

With a 14 to 18 vote with one abstention, the bill failed.

The last bill brought before the Senate proposed funding $250 for the Young Americans for Freedom conservative student organization to host a seminar and recruitment event. The bill was co-authored by Hurst and Young Americans for Freedom President Michael Starmer.

Due time constraints on debate, the bill was tabled for next week’s Senate meeting on March 6.

News reporter Nicole Ziege can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @NicoleZiege.