Senate discusses open textbooks, caucus regulations

Senate+discusses+open+textbooks%2C+caucus+regulations

CW | Abbie Collins

Will Jones

While many other students were walking across campus for Get on Board Day, the SGA Senate convened on Thursday night to discuss caucus regulations, “Open Textbooks” and a congratulatory resolution for Mary Lee Caldwell.

At the beginning of the session, Chris D’Esposito, the director of transportations services for the Unversity, discussed some of the changes that Parking Services made over the summer. D’Esposito noted the creation of three new bus routes: the “Soccer Lot Rocket,” the “Bronze” and the “North Commuter Rocket” routes. He said both were created in attempt to lessen the wait time for students trying to get to the quad. In addition, D’Esposito talked about the new “Ride Amigos” program that provides carpooling for University students and faculty, and the new parking meter-like system now set up in the upper parking lot of the Student Recreation Center.

Later, Senate Speaker Lance McCaskey’s bill to update Senate caucus regulations was introduced. The bill updates the SGA’s Code of Laws to require members of the Senate to maintain  a minority caucus, majority caucus, women’s caucus, LGBTQ+ caucus, faith-based caucus and a greek caucus. The bill also allows, but does not require, Senators to join a caucus. The bill was sent to the Rules Committee for further consideration. 

Next, Michael Smith’s, a sophomore economics major, introduced a bill calling for open textbooks to be adopted on campus. The bill defines an open textbook as “a textbook written by education professionals and released online under an open license permitting everyone to freely use, print, share and adapt the material.”

Shortly after its introduction, Senator Ross D’Entremont began questioning Smith about the bill. D’Entremont, a sophomore majoring in finance and political science, raised concerns about potential contractual issues that may arise between the University and textbook companies should open textbooks be adopted on campus. After asking a total of 32 questions, D’Entremont ended his query of the bill’s sponsor. Afterwards, D’Entremont said that he is not opposed to open textbooks, but is in favor of expounding on the SGA’s work to decrease textbook costs.

“My opinion is this: textbooks cost too much, and we have to find out some way to lower the cost of textbooks,” he said.

Smith said his bill would first ask the University to find the classrooms where open textbooks would be the most effective, and prioritize which classes should be focused on in order to maximize the amount of money saved by students. Smith said that for the remaining classes, he hopes the University will apply for the OpenStax Institutional Partnership Program to receive up to $20,000 to adopt open textbooks.

“I definitely think that [open textbooks] will help freshman and sophomores who have never had, you know, steady forms of income, either having to rely on parents or, you know, having financial trouble coming in to the University … I believe it will definitely allow them more academic freedom,” Smith said. 

The bill was sent to the Academic Committee for further review.

The meeting concluded after a resolution congratulating Mary Lee Caldwell on being named the Director of Student Governance and Citizenship.

Order of Events:

1. Chris D’Esposito spoke about changes made by parking services, a full list of which can be found at crimsonride.ua.edu.

2. Bill to update caucus regulations in the Senate introduced, sent to Rules Committee.

3. Bill to adopt open textbooks on campus introduced, sent to Academic Committee.

4. Congratulatory resolution for Caldwell introduced, passed unanimously.