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SGA votes on student pronouns legislation, accepts first senator representing Frisco campus

SGA votes on student pronouns legislation, accepts first senator representing Frisco campus

SGA votes on student pronouns legislation, accepts first senator representing Frisco campus
February 11
16:07 2022

At this week’s Wednesday meeting, the University of North Texas’ Student Government Association addressed two pieces of legislation, approving one allowing students to add pronouns to their student ID card.

Legislation S2022-R2, titled “Pronouns on UNT Student IDs,” was introduced during last week’s meeting and was approved after senators amended the document to fix small grammatical errors and add the Student Financial Services as a recipient of the approved legislation.

“I’m just very happy that everyone is on board with this,” said Grant Johnson, senator for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Studies and co-creator of the legislation.

The legislation allows students to add preferred pronouns to their student ID cards. It is optional and the first updated card would be free, according to the document. Every subsequent change or replacement card would cost a small fee mandated by the SFS.

“It’s the first domino to fall in order to get policies here to change,” Johnson said.

Johnson and legislation co-author College of Music Senator Beige Cowell are planning to introduce future legislation and create committees to address more issues for LGBTQ+ students.

“[The committee would] get different types of voices to create a movement to address housing for trans or queer students,” Johnson said.

S2022-B1, or “Senate Standing Committee Event Requirement,” was the second document brought up during the meeting. The bill, which would only affect SGA, amended the senate’s code of conduct to require all committees to organize a one-hour event each semester as a way to interact with constituents.

“The student senate and its committees should always be seeking new, better and more effective ways to connect, advocate and engage with undergraduate students whom they represent,” College of Science Senator Gracy Schulte said as she read the bill aloud.

As all senators are required to join at least one committee on top of their other existing duties as senators, the committee’s event would not be in replacement of a senator’s usual office hours and tabling requirements. While reading the bill, some senators questioned if all committees, such as internal committees, needed to interact with constituents.

“There’s plenty of activities that the legislative affairs committee and the internal senate committee can do to help interact with constituents and help make SGA a little more known,” Schulte said.

The bill will be discussed and voted on during SGA’s next meeting on Feb. 16.

The senate also approved three new members, welcoming psychology and political science junior Kaylen Ruiz, journalism senior Inaara Dharas and UNT Frisco project design and analysis senior Nicholas Baker to SGA.

Dharas was approved as the fifth supreme court justice and Ruiz, whose qualifications included co-organizing a recent COVID-19 policy protest, took the last available CLASS senate seat.

Baker, who attends school at the UNT Frisco campus, became the senate’s first New College representative.  While he does not represent the Frisco location as a whole, which has its own seat in the senate, Baker will act as a conduit for the students who attend it, SGA Vice President David Muñoz-Sarabia said.

“We finally have an advocate to represent New College,” Muñoz-Sarabia said. “I think it’s wonderful.”

The New College senator will also help other SGA members get a better perspective of the entire UNT system, Muñoz-Sarabia said.

“We can be better advocates and have a better overview of how to best address the needs of our student body,” Muñoz-Sarabia said.

At the start of the senate meeting, SGA President Devon Skinner brought up recent controversies regarding the University of Texas Student Government.

The UT SG had been having issues with its executive board, leading some of its members to face possible impeachment. The UT administration had recently intervened and stopped the assembly from continuing with its impeachments, allowing the members to remain on the board, Skinner said.

“I found that concerning,” Skinner said. “I don’t think democratic institutions such as student government should be influenced in such a way.”

Skinner reached out to the UT SG assembly on behalf of the SGA to show its support.

“A threat to any democratic institution representing the voices of students of Texas is a threat to all students in the state of Texas,” Skinner said. “I would hope others stand up for us if we were to face a similar situation.”

While Skinner doubts UNT would ever attempt to interfere with SGA proceedings, the UT administration choosing to do so with its student government is troubling, Skinner said.

“Student government is supposed to be the institutional arm that allows students to represent students to administration,” Skinner said. “It’s the senate’s right to impeach. If the senate decided to impeach me, I wouldn’t want the university to interfere on my behalf.”

Featured Image: SGA senators speak over video with newly appointed UNT Frisco campus senator Nicholas Baker on Feb. 9, 2022. Photo by Jackie Martinez

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Alex Reece

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