During the March 7th meeting of the Student Government Association Senate, Dean of Students Michael Mardis gave updates on concerns raised by students at the prior Senate meeting regarding preferred names and gender inclusivity. Dean Mardis claimed that the University would be replacing the old version of the class register that does not list preferred names “within the next few weeks,” as well as looking at the strategies implemented at other Universities that have gender inclusive housing. Also present was UofL Police Department Commander of Operations, Major Oscar Chavez, who informed the body that all 3 ULPD shifts will be going through a Diversity and Inclusion workshop with Marian R. Vasser, the Director of Diversity Education and Inclusive Excellence and Executive Director of Diversity and Equity at UofL. She will be volunteering her time to complete the training.
Executive Cabinet Reports
In the Executive Cabinet Reports, Executive Vice President Katie Hayden announced that Senate Diversity and Inclusion training would take place at the following Senate meeting on March 21st. Services Vice President Alex Reynolds announced that progress had been made toward construction of a new walkway next to the Speed art museum that would replace the current gravel path that often floods and causes problems for students trying to traverse campus when it rains. SVP Reynolds noted later that construction is scheduled to begin in April 2023.
Fate of SB 12.42: The Bill Seeking to Suspend PIKE’s Charter
During the Executive Board Reports, the Student Organization Advisory Board announced that they have decided not to request that the Senate take steps to suspend the Charter of Phi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. This comes after Senate Bill 12.42, sponsored by Senator Kai Speed (Sophomore, A&S), passed unanimously at the February 21st Senate session. The resolution formally requested that the Student Organization Advisory Board (SOAB) send an official request to the Senate to suspend the charter of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity (PIKE) for one year for violations of the student code of conduct. SOAB claimed in a statement that advising the suspension of an organization’s charter fell outside the bounds of their power.
Student Strike Amendment
Action was taken on Senate Bill 12.39 sponsored by Senator Nino Owens (Junior, A&S). The Bill intended to amend section 4 of the SGA Constitution to grant the Senate the ability to call a student strike. A lengthy period of discussion commenced during which concerns arose about the practicality of the amendment. Senator Daniel Ngongo (Junior, A&S) voiced opposition to the bill citing doubts about the clause allowing a financial strike because by the time a strike went into effect students would have already paid for tuition.
Senator Owens offered that financial strikes would most likely be reserved for the spring semester if the amendment was adopted. Also speaking in opposition to the bill were representatives of the UofL Young Communist League. They relayed to the Senate their belief that strikes should be a grassroots effort by the students and not an action taken by any governing body. In response, Senator Owens quipped, “As my momma used to say: if the communists are against it, it’s probably a good thing.” While there was an outburst of laughter in the tense chamber, this comment was not well received by some other senators. The bill ultimately failed after a symbolic filibuster speech by Senator Owens.
With the debate on SB 12.39 taking more time than intended, the rest of the agenda, including the second reading of Senate Bill 12.43 as amended, and the second reading of Senate Bill 12.44 were tabled and the meeting was adjourned.
For those interested in the Student Government Association, the next Senate meeting will be held on April 4th at 7:30 in the Horn Auditorium at the College of Business. All Senate meetings are open to the public and students are encouraged to come and participate.