University of Tennessee’s Student Government Association met on Tuesday. They appointed new senators, introduced and voted on bills and discussed upcoming events.
First, the executive members of SGA began by briefing upcoming events such as spirit week and discussing possible consequences of the upcoming election. After previous vandalism occurred after or around election day in 2016, SGA is taking precautions to prevent such acts this year. Constant surveillance of the Rock is one way as well as expanding security around the Frieson Black Cultural Center.
President Karmen Jones also discussed SGA’s plan to put together 400 isolation packages for students isolating because of COVID-19 exposure.
In addition, the senate also introduced two new bills to the floor.
The purpose of this bill is to limit the amount of lecture time for online classes. Targeted specifically at asynchronous classes, this bill addresses the concern that professors are taking advantage of online learning and posting more required content that would be allowed in a regular in-person format. Specifically, no longer than 150 minutes a week for 3 hours per week course format.
This bill would limit online lecture videos and required activities to the same as in-person classes. In polls taken by the Senators proposing the bill, 49.6% of students said some of their classes require more than 150 minutes a week or more than 50 minutes a day for the designated class period. These figures come from a pool of 120 student replies.
Bill 08-20 was referred to the Student Advancement Committee for amendment and will be voted upon at a later date.
This bill attempts to address parking issues on campus. The bill proposes that residential students who promise to not bring their cars to campus will be given a bike to use for that year.
The purpose of this bill is to open up more parking spaces for non-commuter residential students. Bill 09-20 was referred to the Campus Infrastructure Committee for amendments and will be voted upon at a later date.
In addition to the new bills introduced, previous bills were also reviewed and voted upon from previous Senate meetings.
This bill was introduced in order to recommend the use of compostable to-go trays and cups in place of styrofoam in Vol Dining locations.
With many Vol Dining locations offering or requiring to-go options, SGA and the Office of Sustainability are concerned about the environmental impact. They instead recommend the Vol Dining locations use compostable options. In addition, they recommend marketing that would raise awareness of how to compost these to-go boxes and cups.
Organizations like SPEAK, or Students Promoting Environmental Action In Knoxville, have also addressed this issue. In addition, a petition to enact the use of compostable materials over styrofoam in Vol dining locations gained over 2,100 signatures.
Senators voted on the bill and it passed unanimously.
This bill recommends that UT follow the Spring 2020 semester in implementing a satisfactory/credit/no credit grading scale. This was addressed because many believe that the academic hardships on students are similar to the Spring 2020 semester.
This semester the Senate suggests there be a deadline of Dec. 1 or the last study day. They claim that this will keep students from taking advantage of the system.
Like last semester, this will be optional and offered on a class-by-class basis.
They also included in the bill to consider the same grading scale for Spring 2021 if classes continue to be a problem for students due to pandemic restrictions.
The Senate voted on the bill and it passed with 45 in favor of the bill.
This bill suggested amendments to the SGA Senate bylaws. The suggested amendments included disability services, changes to penalties, the ability to add and abolish committees and more.
The Senate tabled the bill until the next session.
Edited by Ryan Sylvia and Donna Mitchell
Featured Photo Courtesy of the SGA website