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SGA discusses upcoming events, textbook affordability

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The Student Government Association had its weekly senate meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25 in room 2w22 in the Memorial Student Center. Hannah Petracca served as presiding officer over the meeting, which was open to the public and student body to voice concerns. Most of the meeting revolved around the initiative to push for affordable textbooks.

The beginning of the meeting focused on upcoming events such as homecoming and the fall day of service, and several organizations requested funding. A large portion of the meeting focused on updates to Student Body President Hunter Barclay and Vice President Petracca’s initiative to provide more affordable educational materials to the student body.

Barclay was recently elected the student chair of West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. Barclay said the meeting generated a lot of conversation regarding preventing tuition hikes in the state of West Virginia, preventing an “educational brain drain,” where students get educated in West Virginia then move out of the state, and textbook affordability.

“A lot of students all across West Virginia are working on the issue of textbook affordability,” Barclay said. “This is a priority for the state and something that we will continue to work on, but we now have a substantial voice in the matter.”

Barclay and Petracca attended a meeting regarding affordable textbook materials with the Marshall University Faculty Senate this past week. Both said the meeting was very successful.

“They were very responsive to our ideas, and even gave us programs and strategies that faculty and students could use to help lower the cost of their class materials,” Barclay said.

“We are so very lucky to have a Faculty Senate who is willing to listen to us,” Petracca said.

Barclay and Petracca passed around a menu brochure of affordable textbook and educational material resources for senators and students to look at. The pair plan to meet with President Jerry Gilbert and Provost Jaime Taylor within the upcoming weeks in order to refine their ideas for textbook affordability.

Their end goal is a resolution that would encourage faculty and professors to utilize affordable materials for their classes. Barclay and Petracca said the hope with this is that the financial stresses on students would be reduced, and they would be more apt to succeed in their educational endeavors, thus leveling the playing field more. The argument against this is an encouragement toward textbook affordability limits the ability of professors to freely teach their classes with preferred educational materials.

The menu of options Barclay and Petracca passed around include the recommendation for professors to encourage students to buy older editions of their preferred textbook and $100 price caps for textbooks used in a class. Additionally, the brochure lists several programs students can utilize to cut costs of educational materials, such as Openstax and Cengage Unlimited, both programs that help curb financial pressure.

“Feedback from you all is always encouraged as we continue to move this plan forward,” Barclay said. “We’re happy with where the Faculty Senate Meeting went, and we’re optimistic to see where this goes next.”

Hannah Graham can be contacted at [email protected]

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