ECU's Student Government Association meets to discuss lowering the cost of textbooks.

Last night, the Student Government Association (SGA) had its fourth session of its weekly assembly meeting where the members discussed a grant that may allow students to pay less for their textbooks and a new fee for students who use the Game Room in the Main Campus Student Center.

The meeting began with representatives giving recaps on the past week and new developments for their representative departments.

SGA President Colin Johnson began the discussion and said that there is a future feature for students’ OneCards. In the future, One Cards may be linked to a student's bank account, allowing it to act as a debit card as well as a student’s ID, Colin said.

“We are going to be contracting with a banking service to make that a possibility, to make your one card act as a debit card. That’s going to bring in substantial revenue for the university while also trying to benefit the students,” Johnson said.

There is additionally a new office being created in order to help students with financial literacy, and it will provide personal financial counseling for students and try to educate students on finances, Johnson said.

Taylor Chappell, the student body vice president, said SGA is planning events in order to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day at East Carolina University.

“There are going to be several events on Monday, and there’s also going to be two panels with speakers. One will be about holistic health and the other will be about social justice and civil rights, and there is also a speaker,” Chappell said.

Melany Conteras, the University of North Carolina (UNC) association of student governments liaison, then talked about the new UNC system presidency vacancy and spoke about a survey for students take with questions relating to what they want in a future president.

“The lowest amount of responses actually came from students, and that’s a little bit concerning to me because this person is making big decisions for what's going on in the UNC system as a whole,” Conteras said.

This survey can be found at the UNC System’s website under the presidential search tab.

The assembly then turned to a new legislation called the Joyner Support Resolution which would try and reduce the costs of textbooks by giving teachers grants in order to write alternate textbooks for their courses.

Joshua Spears, director of academic affairs, discussed a new textbook cost transparency initiative which would allow students to view a course’s textbook cost when registering for classes.

The Alternative Textbook Grant Program would offer professors grants of up to $1000 if they were to make a course alternative or a free online textbook in order to reduce the cost to students, Spears said.

“Last year the initiative was filling out all of the awards. This year we have only done seven out of the 10 awards, which means that some of the faculty has lost interest or the program was not highlighted enough,” Spears said.

SGA wants to try and promote this program to students and faculty in order to get more professors to create these alternative textbooks, and they will be voting on the issue next week, Spears said.

The next issue discussed by the assembly concerned an email sent by a student. The student was concerned about a possible hourly fee for students using the gaming center in the Main Campus Student Center.

Morgan Estes, the speaker of the student assembly, read the email from the student which said, “(She) was disappointed to hear that the video game lounge which used to operate on a system that allowed students to play for free now requires students to pay a certain amount per an hour to play.”

Representative Eddie Onsare said it was always intended by the university to charge for game room use and brought up the fact that the bowling and games in Mendenhall costs money.

Representative Spears said the fees would be used in order to pay the student workers who are working in the Gaming Room.

Hunter Whittington, the director of local and state affairs for SGA, said, “If this was a known fee increase, they should have been marketing it as such and they should have been telling people from the jump that this was going to happen.”

Whittington said it has been a common issue for ECU to try and increase fees to students without properly announcing it and having SGA be the ones who are informing students.

This was also the first assembly where Shipmates were allowed to take part in the event. Shipmates is an initiative that allows freshmen to participate in SGA by having a mentor who informs them about what happened in the assembly meetings.

Carolyne Clifford, a freshman majoring in exercise physiology said Shipmates is an initiative for freshmen who are interested in leadership and a way for freshman to have a way to easily get into SGA.

“It’s only freshman, so we aren’t normally at assemblies, so we have one representative for the freshman and shipmates and he comes back to us with information and gets us ready for the assembly and what we are doing next year,” Clifford said.

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