Photo and story by Hannah Adams / Contributing Writer
For their weekly Thursday meeting, the Student Government Association met in the Parliamentary Room in the Student Union Building to discuss bills and resolutions that were proposed last week. The legislative items from the previous meeting were brought up again to be put to a vote.
Kobe Hermann’s “Tentative Bill 1-18-S,” or “A Bill to Move an Amended SGA Oath to the Senate By-Laws,” was the first to move into voting. This bill would serve the purpose of moving the oath, which is currently under the executive branch portion, to the senate bylaws. This would include a new article being written, entitled, “Article V, Oath of Office.”
Without any further questions or debate, the bill moved to a vote and passed.
Next was “Bill 2-18-S,” or “A Bill to Amend the Student Government Association Constitution,” which was sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Cieka and Sen. Abbi Thompson. This bill would not change the context of the constitution, but rather served to fix grammatical errors, numbering inconsistencies and the layout.
There was nothing changed in the bill since the last meeting, but Sen. Thompson did stress the importance of everyone looking over the amended document to double check in case anything was overlooked.
When put to a vote, the bill passed.
Sen. Bre’Yhana Johnson took the podium next to present her sponsored legislation, “Bill 3-18-S.” This bill would invoke the pre-existing position of a liaison in the constitution. The liaison, which would be appointed by the vice president of marketing, would hold the responsibility of promoting SGA through social media and giving the student body a better representation of what SGA does.
The only changes Johnson made from last week was some phrasing.
Some members believed that this position was redundant as they stated that the vice president of marketing, an already existing position, should be responsible for the aforementioned duties. However, a few others spoke on behalf of the bill and said that having a liaison would help take some of the workload off of the vice president of marketing.
“If somebody wants the position of legislative liaison, why should they not have it?” Sen. Freya Cartwright said. “It’s not costing us anything to let someone take on these extra duties, and if it gives SGA more detailed coverage and publicity, I don’t see why we shouldn’t.”
After being put to a vote, the bill passed.
Cartwright and Sen. Emily Lupo were next, bringing up “Resolution 4-18-S,” or “A Bill to Set Limits for the Executive Branch and Judicial Branch Members of the SGA of MTSU.” Last week, this resolution included term limits for senators as well, but Cartwright and Lupo both amended the resolution so that senators would be exempt from term limits.
Executive and judicial branch representatives, should the resolution pass, would serve only two consecutive years in their positions. Cartwright and Lupo hoped that the limit would entice the branch members to really promote their position once their term was coming to an end, resulting in more student interest in elections.
Senate members still feared the risk of leaving a seat potentially empty if no one ran for the position once the terms expired. Some members suggested that the document be amended to include what precautions SGA would take should that situation arise.
The motion, when voted upon, failed.
Next, sponsored by Sen. Delanie McDonald, was “Resolution 11-18-S,” or “Nursing Students Graduation Recognition.” The nursing program grading scale is held at a higher standard than other college programs and awards for summa, magna and cum laude are currently determined by the letter grade achieved by graduation. This resolution would not seek to change the grading scale but rather have awards given based on the grade percentage and not the letter.
Since last week, nothing was changed on the legislation. However, McDonald did conduct further research on other departments’ grading scales and other schools. She found that nursing was the only program held at this high of a grade standard and that only four colleges in the U.S use the A plus or minus for nursing grades, which MTSU does not.
“I’m really just looking into the school of nursing and how that affects students,” McDonald said. “If you do know of another school or college at MTSU and how it affects (students), if you would like to look into that legislation … it doesn’t affect this legislation … It’s specifically just for the school of nursing.”
The teachers would be responsible for keeping score of the grade percentage on D2L, in theory. There was some debate regarding the details of the resolution. The majority of the senate was in favor of the legislation, however, and it passed the vote.
Hermann returned to the podium for his second piece of legislation, “Resolution 12-18-S,” or “A Resolution to Amend MTSU Student Affairs Policy 500 in Order to Protect the Identity of Students.” Student information, such as phone numbers and emails, are sometimes leaked without consent from the student, as stated in Section C of Policy 500. Due to this, many scam emails are being sent to students. This legislation would remove Section C entirely.
The biggest concern was that by removing Section C, this would also cause student and faculty emails to no longer be available in the directory. In the case of lost and found items, some members expressed concern in returning lost items without the help of student emails through the directory.
Despite Hermann assuring that faculty members would still have access to the directory information, the motion failed.
The next legislation was “Resolution 13-18-S,” or “A Resolution Regarding Financial Aid Loss After a Grade Appeal.” Sponsored by Sen. Seth Harrell, this resolution addressed the concern of a student losing their financial aid due to an incorrect grade. The biggest issue was determining who would be held responsible for the student’s wrongful fees. There was debate that the department who gave the wrong grade in the first place should be the one to pay the fees, while other senators debated that the school, itself, should pay them. If that was the case, there was concern of where the money would be coming from and if it would be taken away from something else that would be beneficial to the school.
There was also call for a distinction between financial aid and scholarships and how the school could help in the case of a lost scholarship due to wrongful drop in GPA.
“I think that this is great, and if a student loses their money, they should be able to get it back,” Sen. Johnson said. “But I really feel like you should do more research before we try to pass something like this.”
However, some Senate members believed it was not within their power to decide who was responsible for fees in the end.
“It is a disadvantage to the university for this to be implemented, but it is a safe-catch for students that do get put in this situation,” Sen. Taylor Orr said. “It’s on the university to (figure out the budget).”
Senators voted on the resolution after the debate, and it passed.
The final resolution of the night, which was also sponsored by Harrell, was “Resolution 14-18-S,” or “A Resolution Regarding Subcommittees for Grade Appeals.” This resolution dealt with the hearings for student grade appeals. In most cases, the faculty members present at these hearings outweigh the number of student subcommittees, which Harrell stated was a disadvantage to a student seeking a grade appeal.
Harrell proposed that, should there not be an even number of students and faculty present in a hearing, the meeting would then have to be rescheduled.
Last week, senate members expressed that this could only harm a student by delaying the grade appeal process.
The suggestion made by Senate members was that there should be a minimum number of students who are required to be present at each hearing. These hearings are always held during business hours, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. This time restraint makes it very difficult for students to attend the hearings.
Other debate raised in favor of the legislation was the tendency for faculty members to be biased towards their fellow teachers, thus harming the student’s credibility. However, other members of the Senate disagreed and felt that just the opposite was the case. They stated that faculty members are harder on their colleagues rather than biased.
Harrell held firm on his idea that there be an even number of faculty and students.
The motion passed, and the meeting adjourned.
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