Oldham speaks at SGA meeting about upcoming Tennessee legislature

President Philip Oldham attended the Student Government Association meeting Tuesday, March 29 in order to speak about the students’ concerns and inform them of upcoming changes on campus.

“Thank you for letting me come tonight, I appreciate all that you do. There’s plenty of stuff that I could talk about but I’m going to start on The Focus Act,” said Oldham.

The Focus Act focuses on college success by restructuring the current board of regents and by allowing the campus to have an independent board of trustees. Among these trustees will be one student representative and one faculty representative.

These changes will go into affect July 1 and will have a 15-month transition period before the official board will be in place.

Oldham informed SGA at the meeting that a bill is currently in the legislative process that will allow full-time employees of public higher education institutions, with proper handgun permits, to carry firearms on property owned by the institution.

This bill, SB2376 and HB1736, has been sponsored Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) and Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden). The bill was recommended for passage through the Senate Judiciary Committee March 29 by a 7-2 vote.

Bobby Adams, SGA president, was neutral about the new bill.

“I can see a lot of pros and cons to it,” said Adams. “I think the intention is to make campus safer.”

The final Senate floor vote has yet to be scheduled. The bill is also scheduled for review with the House Education Administration and Planning Committee Wednesday, April 6 according in the legislative calendar.

President Oldham took questions from concerned students about these issues after he was done speaking.

During the SGA meeting, Eugene Poole, SGA senator, presented a bill called “An Act to Create a Student Leadership Conference Fund.” This bill aims to create a new fund for student organizations wishing to receive funding to attend student leadership conferences. The bill will take 10 percent of the money from the S.O.L.O. fund each semester and put it into the new student leadership fund. Adams said the fund will act similarly to Chapter 606, but SGA senators will allocate the money from the student leadership fund to students.

“It creates an avenue for student to get it (S.O.L.O. money) back,” said Adams.

Poole and SGA have not defined the parameters of a student leadership conference. Adams said this definition will be decided by the SGA senators during the voting process.

Student organizations can only apply for this funding once every academic year.

SGA allocated $16,789.49 to 11 different S.O.L.O. applications.