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SGA changes senator office hour guidelines, reaffirms anti-discrimination policy

SGA changes senator office hour guidelines, reaffirms anti-discrimination policy

SGA changes senator office hour guidelines, reaffirms anti-discrimination policy
October 29
17:47 2021

The Student Government Association passed two emergency pieces of legislation on Wednesday, amending its constitution’s required office hours for members to meet with their constituents and signing legislation to reaffirm the organization’s no-tolerance stance on discrimination.

College of Engineering senator Andy McDowall introduced his Senate Office Hour Requirements legislation, a bill that would amend the SGA constitution by decreasing the senators’ required office hours and tabling sessions to promote time flexibility for its members.

“I think a lot of senators have been restricted by the rules,” McDowall said. “It’s not my intention to scale back office hours, it’s my intention to allow senators to decide how to best use their time.”

Office hours and tabling are how senators speak directly to their constituents on campus and have been explicitly required in the SGA constitution. The constitution also states a senator with three unexcused absences from their required office or tabling hours will result in that senator being removed from the SGA entirely.

After over an hour of amendments, questions and discussions on the best option for both SGA members and the student body, the senators approved a standard of at least two office hours or tabling hours per month for each senator. Previously, senators were required to have at least one hour of office hours every week and one tabling session per month.

“The keyword is ‘at least,’” SGA Vice President David Muñoz-Sarabia said during the discussion, inviting senators to exceed the relatively small minimum if they wanted.

Since McDowall’s legislation changed the minimum number of required hours, the senate also approved wiping all standing unexcused absences from the record, allowing senators to start fresh and adjust to the changes.

“Policies that interact with students at an adequate rate is important,” Muñoz-Sarabia said.

Also passed at the meeting was the Condemnation of Discrimination legislation, introduced by Senator McDowall and College of Engineering senator Jady Brown.

“I think it’s important to periodically examine what your values are,” McDowall said.

The discrimination legislation will publicly restate SGA’s long-standing commitment to creating a safe space for both their senators and the university student body as a whole, planning to be published on SGA’s official website as soon as possible.

“The point of this legislation is to reaffirm the SGA’s stance on discrimination and other things talked about in UNT policy,” McDowall said. “This is to say that ‘this is what we’re about.’”

The legislation passed unanimously, with an important amendment introduced by College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences senator Grant Johnson, allowing all present senators to sign their names with the writers in support of the legislation.

“We want to make sure everyone feels comfortable being able to come and talk to the senate and the SGA,” Brown said. “I’m really proud the entire senate felt so strongly about it that they all wanted to put their name on the bill as well.”

In addition to approving the two bills, senators also voted and unanimously approved two member applications, officially instating College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences senator Peyton McFarlaine and Supreme Court Justice Harlie Montez to SGA.

Featured Image: SGA senators sit during the meeting on Oct. 27, 2021. Photo by Lindy Jenkins

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Alex Reece

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