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Senate holds first official meeting of the semester

Will Jones, Bennett Stansell

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The first official SGA senate meeting of the semester started off with a bang on Thursday when SGA President Jared Hunter made a statement announcing the sanctions that were levied by the Office of Student Conduct over the summer. The sanctions, which came as a result of the Office of Student Conduct’s review of Hunter’s campaign violations, include 45 hours of community service and education research, both of which must be completed by November.

Hunter’s announcement was only the beginning of an eventful senate meeting. Once Hunter left the podium, Ross D’Entremont, SGA’s vice president of academic affairs, spoke for a few minutes on the importance of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) program that is currently being established in Tuscaloosa.

After D’Entremont’s update on SAFE, Claudia Hogan was confirmed as Senate communications director and Sierra Stockley was confirmed as director of media relations.

With the confirmations of Hogan and Stockley complete, resolutions and acts were pitched by Senators Robert Pendley, Mike Smith and Darby McQueen.

Pendley’s resolution R-02 centered around providing support for the amending of the Alabama state code to support victims of sexual assault, sexual abuse and rape. The main issue that Pendley, a University law student, has with Alabama’s rape statute is the “archaic” wording of the laws.

“One thing that I consistently heard from the media as well as other students is that Alabama’s rape laws are archaic. So I started there, looked at the rape law, read a lot of law reviews on Alabama’s law specifically, and really pinpointed in on what the definition of what forcible compulsion is and that’s the main issue,” Pendley stated.

While Pendley originally thought about attempting to change the wording of the law by himself, he came to the conclusion that an attempt to alter Alabama’s rape laws would be far more potent coming from a coalition of students, namely The University of Alabama SGA.

Pendley’s resolution passed through senate unanimously after being immediately considered.

Senator Mike Smith, a junior majoring in economics, then proposed resolution R-03, which calls for The University of Alabama to release all records pertaining to campaign violation committed by SGA President Jared Hunter last semester, as well as the release of all subsequent case determinations. Smith proposed his resolution in hopes of unearthing the process and final decisions on Hunter’s campaign violations. Smith’s argument was centered around Hunter having waived his FERPA rights when he signed up to run for SGA President.

“I believe the students of The University of Alabama deserve the right to know what happened behind closed doors over the summer,” Smith said. “…I think that in order to really promote transparency and make sure that the democratic process is strong, we have to release these documents in order to find out what really happened.”

Smith’s resolution was sent to the Academic Affairs Committee.

Additionally, Smith proposed three separate acts during senate. Act 03 called for the investigation of adopting free or reduced STI testing for Alabama students. Act 04 established a “Helping the Homeless” initiative that plans on giving unwanted, yet perfectly serviceable college furniture to the less-fortunate members of the Tuscaloosa community. Act 05 called for the adoption of open textbooks. Act 03 and 04 were passed, but Act 05 was sent to the Academic Affairs Committee.

Senator Darby McQueen also proposed resolution R-04, which encouraged University of Alabama professors to adapt their courses for students with disabilities. McQueen’s resolution was passed unanimously. 

Order of Events:

  1. Statement from SGA President Jared Hunter regarding the sanctions he was given by the University’s office of Student Conduct”
  2. Confirmation of Claudia Hogan as communications director
  3. Confirmation of Sierra Stockley as director of media relations
  4. Resolution R-02 introduced, passed.
  5. Resolution R-03 introduced, sent to the Academic Committee.
  6. Resolution R-04 “encouraging The University of Alabama to respect the Office of Disability Services attendance recommendations for students who are registered with the Office of Disability Services,” according to the resolution introduced, passed.
  7. Act A-03, which would foster an investigation into adopting free or low cost STI testing introduced, passed.
  8. Act A-04 to create a “Helping the Homeless” initiative introduced, passed.
  9. Act A-05 to adopt open textbooks at the University of Alabama to respect the Office of Disability Services attendance recommendations for students who are registered with the Office of Disability introduced, sent to the Academic Affairs Committee.
  10. Resolution R-05 supporting the University Law School’s work toward changing the Alabama Code “to support victims of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and rape,” according to the resolution, introduced and passed.

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Senate holds first official meeting of the semester