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MUSC Student Government Association

October 9th Meeting Minutes


Dr. Sabra Slaughter, Chief of Staff and Co-Chair of the Commencement Committee:  Hello, I have been working as Chief of Staff here at MUSC for the past 14 years.  Pat Casano and Sandra Morris are both members of office enrollment management.  I am here to share what we have been planning for the 2014 commencement and to share some background on our past experiences.  I’m an active learner so I am here to share information as well as hear from you.  I hope to have a dialogue and engage with you throughout this 10 minute presentation. 

How we got to the point of being at The Citadel McAlister Fieldhouse began in 2012 due to rain.  The McAlister field house has been our adverse weather site.  For the past 13 years, when commencement was planned in the horseshoe, we also set it up at the McAlister Fieldhouse.  In 2012, we had to use it because we had threat of rain.  It turned out to be a very successful event, so the Board of Trustees said, this is pretty neat. At the Fieldhouse, we are in charge of the environment, it’s cooler there, and there are no environmental elements, so why don’t we do that again this year.  Therefore, the 2013 commencement was held at the Fieldhouse.  Dr. Greenberg thought it was advisable to double check with the board and so we discussed it in October and April and both times they said, yes we should have it at The Citadel, so we went ahead with that. 

We gathered information about the event in May so that we could learn from that experience. There were many strengths and weaknesses that we needed to work on.  Several strengths of The Citadel McAlister Fieldhouse include the climate control, and ease of sound and visuals—guests could hear well and see students and faculty. The seating capacity was able to accommodate everyone.  We had 200-300 extra seats that were not occupied at the 2013 commencement.  In the horseshoe, we have had to close clinics because the parking facilities have to be used for guests.  The parking facilities on Bee Street and the outpatient facility by the hospital were closed. This is costly and inconvenient to patients.  We also had issues with hospital security as people are free to walk about the halls.  When we moved the event to the Fieldhouse, we had a 60% savings in cost.  This is because we have to pay for the reservation and set up of McAlister whether we use it or not.  Due to these strengths, the board and central admininstration staff endorsed the idea of keeping commencement at the Fieldhouse.

There were also several weaknesses that we observed throughout the 2013 Commencement. This includes the loss of tradition, which the students feel strongly about. The distance away from campus is also a con, as some faculty and staff that work in the clinic were able to attend some of the program when it was held in the horseshoe, but are unable to step away to go to The Citadel. Other issues were the ticket limit, the need for more entrances to the Fieldhouse, bus transportation to and from The Citadel, handicapped parking, and water availability.  Water was available for handicapped and golden grads but not for the other graduates.  We have taken some action steps to take care of that.

It was recommended to return to the Fieldhouse for the 2014 commencement.  The location was endorsed and the Board has expressed support.  There are some mixed feelings. Some board members have an issue with breaking tradition. Overall, the 2013 commencement was reviewed positively by faculty and parents. There is no other venue that accommodates that size that we need for about 5000 guests.  We cannot have it at the College of Charleston arena.  The North Charleston Coliseum is a possibility.  However, there is the chance that we could get pushed out easily by hockey playoffs.  We are planning to make improvements to the commencement at The Citadel by adding water bottles for the graduates, opening more entrances, buses, improved signage, and expanding handicapped parking.

Pat Casano: Limited tickets were a big concern this past year.  However, we had minimal complaints. Everyone who called with a concern was able to procure extra tickets from friends and those who didn’t need them. We had a lottery drawing for 2 extra tickets. Sixty students received those extra tickets. Some students turned their extra tickets in the day of commencement and we gave those out as well.  We thought we would use the spillover site and had no one there; instead we had extra seats available in the Fieldhouse.  We decided we need to split tickets equally so last year we allowed each student 9 tickets. This year, students will get 10 tickets on Regalia day when they pick up their cap and gown in Colbert building.  Students can return any tickets they don’t need.  We will do the lottery different this year.  If someone needs 2 extra tickets they can complete a form online and we can get those to them.  We should be okay with handicap parking this year.  Last year, we had low utilization. There will also be an online form starting on April 1st to request handicap access for disabled guests.  Last year, we had 100 spots and only used half of them.  We will provide more ticket takers at the door.  At the horseshoe people get there really early and get a shady spot and it is a steady flow. This year we had a low turnout and then at 8:30 we had 70-80% of the audience show up at the same time.

Philip Sobolesky: Where did the 60% savings come from?

Sabra Slaughter:  We spent $15000 for commencement at the Citadel.  At the horseshoe, including setting up an adverse site at the Citadel, it cost us $34000.

Philip Sobolesky:  I worked the door for tickets this past year.  You should rope off the area in order to cattle shoot guests up the stairs because people were just standing around in an open space. It was hectic.

Pat Casano: Last year was a learning experience. We are tweaking everything.  We are a little cautious about routing everyone up the stairs.

Satara Brown: I’m interested in moving it to the North Charleston Coliseum.  How does the hockey team playoff interfere since it is in the evening and not the morning when commencement will be held?

Sabra Slaughter:  We talked about it with the board and they were not receptive. We are open to revisiting that.

Sandra Morris:  The main issue is that the hockey team needs the rink to practice on during the day.

Bradley Baker:  I’m sure there is a substantial amount of set up for the hockey game.

Stephanie McNeil:  In my high school graduation, they set everything up on top of the ice.

Sandra Morris:  The issue is the practice time. 

Carlton Glover:  Considering there were empty seats last year, is it possible that it won’t be a ticketed event?

Pat Casano: We have 5000 some seats and we would like to keep tabs on the number of tickets because we don’t want to get into situation where we have to turn people away due to fire codes.  We have the spillover site as well. 

Sabra Slaughter:  We thought about doing it in an open ended way but there is a risk that some students would not be able to get their 10 guests in.  We have some forethought with the ticket system. 

Pat Casano: One student had 42 guests and we were able to accommodate that request last year.  Students were good about sharing their tickets with their classmates. The majority thought 9 was plenty of tickets, but a few students wanted more.

James Atkison: Does this preclude not ever going back to the horseshoe?  Why is the horseshoe not an option?

Sabra Slaughter:  The horseshoe is an option, but the Fieldhouse is the preferred option.  It is still an open matter.  This year we will go back to the Fieldhouse.  If there is interest in taking it back to the horseshoe, I am sure the democratic process will work out.  We will have to live with the heat, cost, and clinic closures.

Pat Casano: There is also the issue of running out of parking.

Stephen Thompson:  With the money you saved from moving commencement to the Fieldhouse, where does it go?

Sabra Slaughter: It accommodate other needs.   We don’t have a surplus of money.

Kenneth Gordon: Is the purpose of this discussion for you to present this information to us or do you want an opinion from the SGA? 

Sabra Slaughter:  We were asked to come here to share information and you have an excellent representative in Dorothea on the commencement committee. We have a position for student participation on our committee.  We haven’t leaned on that because we know your time is valuable. 

Kenneth Gordon: Can you get a vote from us to take back to the board as representatives of our colleges?

Stephanie Wilson:  What percentage of MUSC graduates does this effect?  Who is graduating in May?  We graduate in July so I don’t feel comfortable voting since this does not affect me. 

Pat Casano:  August and December graduates are allowed to walk but there is limited participation.

Stephen Thompson:  When is the decision made?

Sabra Slaughter:  It has been made.  We are coming to share that with you.

Stephen: Is a vote even warranted then?

Guest:  During a previous graduation, after graduates processed in, whoever was there without tickets, were allowed empty seats.

Pat Casano: Yes that was our game plan last year.  We didn’t need to use it because there were plenty of seats. 

Sara Garrett: have you considered splitting the college’s graduation. That would alleviate a lot of issues.

Sabra Slaughter: We have not considered that option.  We can add that to the list for consideration.  I know there will be an issue with breaking tradition on that matter since we have traditionally held graduation with all of the colleges.  There has been a proposal to have it in the evening. It didn’t go over well. If you do it before 11am or 12pm, we can get around the rain. It usually comes in the afternoon.

Sara Garrett: We are already breaking tradition by moving graduation to McAlister.

Layne Madden:  I appreciate you coming here.  I don’t have a strong opinion on it, but I can appreciate that others do.  In the spirit of moving along the discussion, can we vote to support a certain plan?  I motion to vote on the issue.

Danny Vo:  19 – agreed with the Fieldhouse, 8 – disagreed with the Fieldhouse, and 9 abstained from voting

Jake al Sarraf: You said you saved 60% by having it at The Citadel. Why can’t we have some other cost effective method like tents or umbrellas?

Danny Vo:  The majority voted for it.  If anyone has concerns I can talk to them about what you want to address and we will try to get your voice heard.

Sabra Slaughter:  If there are people who were unable to get tickets, we will certainly do our best to make sure that they are invited in.   

Pat Casano: Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Stephen Thompson: When does the committee arrange commencement for 2014?

Sabra Slaughter:  In January.  I will share this information with the committee tomorrow.  We are talking about commencement speakers and floral arrangements now. We meet on the 3rd Monday of January and each month thereafter.


Old Business

Reading of the September 25th minutes:  Approved

New Business

Allocations Request – Matthew Nodelman from CHAMPS: Hi, I am a 2nd year medical student and president of CHAMPS, which stands for cultivating health among medical professional students.  We are hosting a charity basketball tournament.  The wellness center staff created a program called “Piece it Together” for patients with Autism and other disorders like Asperger’s from the ages of 18-22 years old. It is a nutrition, exercise and educational awareness program. Their initial program was this year and they had 10 participants with great results.  There is a great video on their website if you want to check it out.  The idea is to teach them about their bodies and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  We want to give support to a program that is close to home. The charity tournament will take place on November 16th at the wellness center gym.  It is a 3 on 3 tournament.  We want all colleges involved as an MUSC wide program. The cost is a $20 fee for each team.  You can have 5 people per team, and it includes a t-shirt and food. 

Danny Vo:  We will ask questions now and vote at the next meeting. They are asking for $900.

Katie Herbert: Have you thought about possibly increasing registration fees to cover t-shirt costs?

Matthew Nodelman:  We already started registration but we also talked about it. We don’t want to increase it too much.

Natalie Vajta: Do you have to wear the shirts during the tournament? Can you make it optional to save money?

Matthew Nodelman: We budgeted for $900. We are anticipating 16 teams, so $9 t-shirts on the high end.  We anticipate ~80 players and 20 volunteers for a total of 100 participants.  We hope to get the shirts for cheaper.  We are not requiring people to wear them.

Heather Spain:  Is it a fundraiser?

Matthew Nodelman: The ultimate goal is to give to the program so it can expand and more people can get involved. It is $150 for each to enroll and some people can’t make the financial commitment.

Bradley Baker: How many teams have registered so far?

Matthew Nodelman:  3 teams.  We just advertised, and 6 or 7 others are interested.

James Atkison:  SGA funds can’t be used as a donation. What is your plan for sustainability?

Matthew Nodelman: We have a limited budget because we are just starting out.  I would like to have it as an annual thing.  Our resources are limited.  We are hoping to ask for donations from local business and companies.  That is going to create the fund to give to the wellness center and their program.  We have $400 that we will put toward the program from CHAMPS.  We are asking for initial startup money. 

Layne Madden: Have you gotten any business sponsorships yet?

Matthew Nodelman: Yes, we have had a lot of people commit and show their support.

Kathryn Holt:  What is your plan if we do not give you the money or all of it?

Matthew Nodelman:  The good thing is we have the venue provided for us from the Wellness Center.  We have registration fees that will hopefully cover the costs of the t-shirts.  Food is not a big concern, but we wanted people to attend to watch and have something to eat as well as have some food for our volunteers.  Participants from the program will be playing in a game at the event in the middle of the day and we are hoping their family and friends will come.

Charlene Gravgaard: Is there no charge to enter? Have you thought about charging?

Matthew Nodelman:  We have not worked that out yet.

Bradley Baker:  I’m curious as why fundraising is put under expenses.

Matthew Nodelman:  We are hoping to provide it to the wellness center.  $1500 will go to the program.  We want it to be a nonprofit.

Regina Brown: If students knew this was a scholarship fund, I think students would pay more money.  I don’t know local t -shirt companies, but in high school, people will help you out if it is a fundraiser.

Matthew Nodelman:  Businesses will have their logo placed on the t-shirt.  We want support and donations from the student body in general.  If anyone has any good ideas, please let me know.

Christopher Smith:  This sounds similar to Hoops for health. I recommend talking to Melissa Jacobs for advice.

Commencement Speaker Suggestions:  Please provide any suggestions you may have on the sheet being passed around.

Reps (2) to clean up after meeting:  Heather Spain and Stephanie Wilson


Old Business

MUSC Art Walk Evaluation: We spent $15393.97.  We were $2393.97 over budget.  We were over budget because we got more food, wine, and public safety officers, and bartending costs went up. The wristbands went well--no one got agitated.  The wine lasted a little longer, but it did still run out.  Anyone have any comments?

Michael Occhipinti: The pork sandwiches were amazing.

Nadia Mariutto:  How many reps attended?  Almost everyone raised their hands.

New Business

Improv Comedy Night:  Improv Comedy Night will take place on Thursday, October 17th at Theatre 99. Tickets are on sale now in the Student Programs Office. A reception will take place from 7-8pm.  It includes 1 drink ticket and appetizers.  A cash bar will be available.  The show will take place from 8-9pm.  Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for employees.  2 tickets per ID.  The Sign-up Genius will be sent out at 5pm on October 10th. There will be 4 worker spots and you will be helping with set up and clean up.

MUSC SGA Winetasting:  The Winetasting will take place on November 8th. Tickets are $25 each (2 per MUSC Student ID) and will go on sale on Tuesday, October 22nd at noon.  There are 800 tickets available. The Sign-up Genius will be sent out at 5pm on the Monday prior to the day the tickets go on sale, so that way you know if you need to purchase a ticket.  Tickets go quickly.  If you work the event you don’t need a ticket.  Worker spots are reduced this year since we were hoping for more workers at the Art Walk. 

Worker spots:  Almost everyone went to the Art Walk but we had 8 unfilled worker spots.  We need your help to work these spots.  We have several reps that need worker spots.  That is not acceptable.  We only pretty much have the winetasting left for worker spots.  There are a couple spots for Improv, exam breaks, and then it’s just the winetasting.  We have also had some problems with people not showing up for their worker spots.  It’s ok if you can’t make it and you email us and let us know.  It’s bad because you have to relieve someone else and we have to scramble for those spots.  Luckily last time this happened, Dorothea was working and not another student.  We understand if something comes up.  At this stage in your professional career, you should be able to make something you sign up for.  Please let us know if someone doesn’t show up for their spot.  Kayla has updated all of the worker spots online so check those.

Toya Williams:  How do you access the Rep requirement page?

Kayla Hill:  From the SGA homepage, click on “Rep Info” from the left side panel, and then click on “Rep Requirements”.  I will send out a link with the minutes. 

Michael Occhipinti:  Can we have alternates to alleviate this issue?  They could get ½ a worker spot. 

Dr. Burnham:  If you do not make your requirements, we will meet with you and I will contact your colleges to let them know that you are not meeting your professional obligations.  You have signed an oath.  We understand unexpected emergencies arise.  Please make sure that you’ve met your requirements.


New Business

Honor Council Meeting:  The next Honor Council meeting will be held on Monday, October 28th.  There are no cases.

Steven Holshouser is currently at the World’s Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii.  The event will be televised this Saturday.

Committee Meeting Afterwards


Old Business

Blood Drive Evaluation and Winetasting Ticket Drawing:  Jennifer Stanley from COM won the Winetasting tickets.  We are still waiting for the results to see which college won for the most participants.

New Business

Make a Difference Day:  Saturday, October 12th.  We still need more volunteers!! I am working all by myself at the Metanoia Fights Poverty site so please sign up!  This event is open to all MUSC students as well.

Sugar Free Fall Festival:  Thursday, October 24th. There will be multiple 1 hour shifts for this event so that you can fulfill your 3 required hours since some of you may have 1 hour spots from the Blood Drive.

Committee Meeting Afterwards


New Business

Website update:  The website has been updated with the service hours completed from the Blood Drive.  Please check the Rep Requirements page under the SGA Rep Info tab on the SGA website and let me know if there are any errors in your hours.

SGA Rep Info Update for Website:  The SGA rep information sheet at your seat will be used to update the SGA website.  It will go next to your individual photo.

SGA Oath of Understanding:  If you are a new rep or missed the business meeting of the SGA retreat and have not signed a copy of the SGA Oath of Understanding, please make sure to stay after the meeting and see Nancy Lemon to get this completed.  If you forgot to turn yours in to your committee officers, please make sure to turn those into them to me or one of the officers today!

College Reports:  I also want to remind everyone again that this year we are asking that you provide your college reports to us in advance so that they may be included on the agenda.  Please send any reports to myself or by noon the Tuesday before the SGA meeting.

INTRAMURALS:  Kevin Smuniewski

Volleyball Captain’s Meeting:  October 22nd at 5:15pm in the HSC auditorium. 


MUSC Gives Back – Liz Sheridan:

Student Programs – Nadia Mariutto:  Please mark your calendar for the Sothmann dinner on November 20th at 6:30pm at the American Theater on King street.


Graduate Studies – Philip Sobolesky:  MGSA is hosting a campus-wide career development session on “Nailing Scientific Presentations” at their general body meeting on Thursday, October 10th at noon in EL119.

Health Professions – Deidre Tindal:  CHP will be hosting a Halloween Party at the Joe Riley Stadium on Friday, October 25th.  We will be selling tickets for $15.  Proceeds will benefit the CARES clinic.  There will be a group costume contest for groups of 2-10 people per group.  You will get to walk across the dugout when you parade your costume.  There will be a DJ, dancing, etc. This event is not limited to MUSC students.

Kristin Dickman: This week is PA appreciation week! We will be having a bake sale next week and we are volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House on Friday.

Stephanie Wilson:  OT is having a bake sale next Wednesday. We are also volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House on November 1st.

International Student Association – Jake Al Sarraf:  We raised $450 for the heart walk.  We are also selling t-shirts in horseshoe to raise money.

Medicine – Katie Herbert:  AMWA is having a Health Fair on October 24th from 10am – 2pm. COM also has a team for the Race for the Cure.  There will be a Relay for Life interest meeting on October 14th at noon.  Please contact Kate Williams if you are interested.  

Multicultural Student Advisory Board – Christopher Smith:  There will be a high school SAT workshop on November 16th at 9am in the library.

Nursing – Toya Williams:  There are 5 classmates, including myself, going to Uganda in December.  SNA and CON SGA are selling long sleeve t-shirt for fall.

Michael Occhipinti:  There will be blue and white colors.

Pharmacy – Leonardo Gonzalez:  There will be an etiquette dinner on October 28th at the courtyard on meeting and Calhoun.  It will be a 4 course dinner and there will be great tips, interviewing over dinner style, social cell phone stuff.  Please contact Holly or myself if you are interested.  It is $35 for 4 course meal—a pretty good deal.


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