Executive Council already working to implement policies and platforms

Executive Council already working to implement policies and platforms
Jake Stevens / Alabama Crimson White

Ross D'Entremont, a sophomore majoring in political science and finance, is the Vice President of Academic Affairs.

The 2017-2018 University Student Government Association Executive Council was inaugurated a little over two weeks ago. The Council is comprised of the vice presidents for student affairs, academic affairs, external affairs, financial affairs, the executive vice president, executive secretary and the SGA president as laid out by the SGA Constitution.

Since the inauguration, the council’s members have worked to implement their respective campaign platforms and work with SGA President Jared Hunter to enact his policies.

Ross D’Entremont, a sophomore majoring in political science and finance, said he has already made strides on key planks of his platform. The central aspect of his platform was academic forgiveness. Noting a high number of medical withdrawals in the month of April using data from the last three years from a university that was not the University of Alabama, D’Entremont said it seems like many students are withdrawing right before final exams so they don’t receive a failing grade.

While he understands many of these medical withdrawals are necessary, D’Entremont hopes his academic forgiveness policy will aide students moving forward. This policy would allow students to repeat a course they previously failed, replace the failing grade with the second grade and remove the failing grade from their GPA, he said.

Since his inauguration, D’Entremont said he has collected research on institutions that have received a level six designation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and those that are “research one” schools designated Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

The University has a SACS level six designation, but is not a research one institution. That designation is derived from the number of research/doctoral degrees awarded, according to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions website.

Using his research, D’Entremont said 21 of the 31 institutions with SACS level six and a research one designation have academic forgiveness policies, several of which were implemented recently, he said.

“Doctorate granting institutions are transitioning, in a way, towards academic forgiveness policies. Not only are they transitioning, we are actually falling behind,” he said.

Earlier this year, D’Entremont authored a bill that created a scholarship, in conjunction with the University’s Graduate School, for a University student who enrolled in the University Scholars program. D’Entremont has authored a subsequent bill on the matter, which would amend the previous “Support Our Scholars Act of 2017” to be implemented in the fall of this year or spring of next year.

According to the bill, no member of the SGA would be allowed to receive the scholarship. If passed, a standing committee will be created by D’Entremont to “determine an application, advertise the scholarship, and select the scholarship winner,” according to the bill.

Additionally, Mollie Gillis, a junior majoring in American studies and political science, has begun working on combating sexual assault on campus. Gillis, the vice president for student affairs, said she met with students from the College of Social Work and discussed a project they are working on to help raise awareness for sexual assault.

The ideas the group discussed included updating the Title IX website and requiring residence hall advisors to meet with students to discuss the various resources available to them. These resources include the Women and Gender Resource Center, the University of Alabama Police Department and the Title IX office.

Another plank of Gillis’ platform was creating an “entertainment district” in downtown Tuscaloosa that would allow for open containers. Gillis said she plans to meet with Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox to discuss the idea next week.

“I’m hoping that we can have a productive discussion about that,” she said.

Charlie Steinmetz, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering currently serving as the SGA vice president for financial affairs, made expanding funding for the Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) a key plank of his campaign. The committee oversees funding distribution for student organizations across campus.

While campaigning, Steinmetz called for a $50,000 increase of FAC funding. 

One avenue to increase the funding would be to discuss the increase with the University before a final decision is made for University funding in May for the next fiscal year. The other approach is to use a packet of information that Steinmetz has gathered, which breaks down how much money the University does or does not give out in addition to other financial pieces of information.

Steinmetz also said he has not seen anything that needs to be fixed that was not a part of his platform, but added that he has only been in office a short time and does not yet have a complete cabinet.

“I’m hoping that once everybody has their heads together, we’ll have plenty of time to figure out what needs to be fixed, what we’d like to keep the same and really make this a valuable term,” he said.

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