Senate looks to make internal, external changesBy Will Jones | 10/01/2017 10:39pm
With the school year now in full swing and midterms rapidly approaching, here is a look at some of the legislation that has been introduced in the University SGA senate.
The first piece of legislation discussed during this school year was Resolution 02. This was written by University Law School Senator Robert Pendley in support of amending the Alabama Code "to support victims of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and rape," according to the resolution's title. The resolution encourages the Alabama Congress to adopt a bill attached to the resolution that would, among other things, remove the necessity for evidence of physical resistance on behalf of the victim in one of these cases. After consideration, the resolution was passed.
During the same meeting, Senator Mike Smith, a junior economics major, introduced a resolution urging The University of Alabama to release records from the Office of Student Conduct's investigation into SGA President Jared Hunter's campaign violations. The resolution also called for the release of the results from that investigation after Hunter claimed the proceedings were confidential because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). The Crimson White, soon after, disclosed the fact that Hunter signed away his FERPA rights when he signed a form in order to run for SGA president. This form is required of all candidates for SGA office.
When the resolution was initially introduced, it was sent to the Academic Affairs Committee. At the beginning of the next senate meeting, Smith motioned to have the resolution discharged from the committee. The motion failed and the resolution was brought before the full senate three meetings later only to be voted down.
After the resolution failed to pass, Smith expressed his disappointment in the senate's actions.
"This is an instance that we have as a Student Government Association to promote transparency in the highest form and we shirked our responsibilities, and that's what's happened today," said Smith.
Smith also authored an act to explore the feasibility of free or reduced Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) testing through a new directive. The act was passed during the first official senate meeting and directs the SGA vice presidents for academic and financial affairs to establish a committee to work with the Student Health Center in determining how such a program could be implemented. The act also instructs the vice presidents to deliver progress reports to the senate, the first of which will be given on Nov. 15.
Senate has also heard a bill that would change the senate attendance policy and allow the secretary of the senate to determine whether or not an absence is excused. Clay Gaddis, a sophomore biology major, described the previous rules on attendance as "cutthroat" because absences were only excused if they were for a university sanctioned event.
One senator has been removed from office this year for accruing four unexcused absences, the maximum number allowed. Gaddis said he did not believe the number of allowed unexcused absences needed to be changed.
"If you're missing more than four then you're kind of just disconnecting yourself from senate," Gaddis said.