SGA RECAP: attempted break ins at Noala Heights, Starbucks replacement?, Bird scooters

Whitney Veazy, Staff Photographer


Chairman of Student Welfare Kabir Oyewale brought up security concerns surrounding Noala Heights, an apartment complex on Tennessee Street for international students. Students living at Noala Heights have expressed concern for their safety in light of attempted break-ins at the off-campus housing complex. Oyewale learned from the Noala Heights RA, Averi Smith, that there is a pending decision about UNA providing a police presence from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily. Senators debarred concerns about this idea since some students may not have the best experiences with police, and that it may be intimidating for some students to be surrounded by a police presence. Senator Yashi Srivastava pointed out that not only are students’ safety at risk, but their property is as well. “We have our laptops, we have our phones,” said Srivastava. “We have some, you know, official documents.” Srivastava also pointed out the quality of the apartments themselves. She reported the rooms reek of marijuana and smoke, and that cleaning efforts have not been able to resolve the issue. Srivastava also expressed ideas from a discussion in her marketing class about UNA’s branding, and how money has been spent towards new t-shirts for Resident Advisors, and new iPhones for duty call, yet no security for Noala Heights. Pro-tempore Martin suggested performing a survey on students living at Noala to ask them about their feelings concerning their safety for the purpose of having documentation of these complaints. Chairwoman of Academic Affairs Emma Melton inquired about the possibility of setting up a fund for an alarm system. However, President Amber Sandvig pointed out that since the University is under contract with Noala Heights, UNA may not be able to set up solutions that are part of the physical building itself since they do not own the complex. Sandvig did support Pro-Tempore Martin’s idea of SGA creating a survey, gathering results, then setting up a meeting to discuss the matter with Housing and Residence Life.


Senator Treasure Franklin attended the most recent Food Services Shared Governance Committee meeting. In her report, she revealed that Starbucks has not signed an agreement with Transact to provide meal swipes and Dining Dollars. This means students would have to pay with debit, credit, or cash only at the campus Starbucks. The Food Services Committee agreed that if Starbucks does not accept dining dollars, then UNA will not renew their contract. Then, Starbucks will be replaced with another, voted-upon establishment by next fall. However, the next food services meeting is not until November, so none of these decisions have been made official.


Pro-tempore Mackenzie Martin updated the Senate on the status of the Bird scooter debate. Bird is a company that works with cities and other entities such as universities to set up fleets of electric scooters that can be used for small-scale public transportation. Students and SGA have debated whether these scooters would be beneficial for UNA’s campus. Some suggest the campus is too small to justify the purchase of these scooters, or that the numerous hills and staircases on campus would limit the usability of the scooters. Others, such as Budget Oversight Chairwoman Madison Reese, have brought up the point that scooters may be a better alternative to e-bikes for those who cannot ride bikes due to physical limitations. Martin announced that she sent out a survey to members of the SGA, and encouraged them to spread it around in order to gain feedback from the UNA student body on the matter. “The questions that we had reviewed were like ‘Would you like them on campus?’,” Martin said. “‘If there was a cost would you still be willing to pay?’, ‘What concerns do you have?’” The survey also included questions about classification and domestic/international student status in order to gain insight into the breakdown of who is in favor and who may be opposed. The decision is still tabled until the Senate can gain more student feedback. The survey is in the linktree on the SGA’s Instagram and Facebook pages.


Vice President Kennedy Edwards introduced a discussion around previous plans to support international students by sponsoring a bus to Huntsville. This effort would allow international students access to diverse grocery stores to buy the food items that may not be available in the Shoals. The trip was originally proposed to be for the end of the semester. A question was raised about the metric and expertise by which Huntsville was decided on, and Oyewale assured the Senate that Huntsville had a variety of internationally-focused shops and businesses, including some centered around Indian and African cuisines. Oyewale, however, did raise a concern over the one-time nature of the plan since students need groceries almost every month. Oyewale elaborated on the importance of culture and food. “[For international students] it’s not about their dress or their shoes, it’s about their food that they eat back home.” President Sandvig agreed with the sentiment, saying that if the first trial at the end of the semester is successful, other organizations may be willing to take it on as a consistent project.


Several senators have reviewed and edited the SGA constitution, fixing grammatical errors, clarifying language and phrasing and making updates. One of these updates included allowing newly elected officers to assume office two weeks before final exams, as opposed to the Monday before exams. This is to avoid the necessity of emergency meetings as encountered last semester. The constitution passed the Senate. Revisions, if ratified, will go into effect one full academic year after ratification.


Glenda Richey, Director of the Student Recreation Center, came to speak about UNA’s e-bike program on Sept. 15. The Anderson Bike Program started approximately a year and a half ago when Mr. Anderson, a donor, contacted the university with the idea to donate 25 e-bikes. Richey accepted, then reached out to the Kinesiology Department. She believed this would be a good metabolic research opportunity for the department in relation to use of the bikes. Who was eligible to receive a bike? Richey said that distance from campus played a large role. It was determined that bikes should be distributed to those who lived off campus, but within rational biking distance of the University–no one who lives across the bridge, for example– and to those who did not have another form of reliable transportation. Around 50 percent of bike users right now are international students, many of whom live in Noala Heights. Richey explained that the donor intended for the bikes to help mitigate parking difficulties on campus and to improve the physical and mental health of those using them. Richey sent a report of the research done by the Kinesiology Department to the donor, and he responded by offering to donate 25 more bikes, as well as 6 racks. Richey accepted, however requested help in hiring a GA to help run the program. The donor agreed to split the cost of a Graduate Assistant (GA) with UNA Recreation by paying for the first year of wages. All 50 bikes will be redistributed in the spring.


During open discussion, Senator Alyssa Ledlow brought forth concerns about Student Counseling Services. Ledlow spoke to a group of students who alleged that everyone they know who has gone into SCS has come out feeling worse than before. “I believe, if I’m correct, that Student Counseling Services are included in tuition,” Ledlow said. “So I feel like if they’re having to pay for it, it might as well be beneficial for them.” Ledlow asked the Senate for ideas on how to improve the issue. Pro-Tempore Martin suggested gathering a group of senators to reach out to the director of SCS to review concerns and compare the feedback they’ve gotten from students versus what has been heard around campus. Chairwoman Madison Reese encouraged senators to direct feedback and questions towards Senator Ledlow so that she can bring them to the head of counseling services, and Communications Director Caroline Conkle offered to create a student survey in order to gather feedback for the same purpose. The Senate has also started live streaming meetings on their Instagram to encourage student involvement.


Correction: Sept. 22, 2022

The printed version of this story reported Starbucks had not signed a contract with Chartwells. It is Transact, not Chartwells, who handles dining dollars and meal swipes.