Senate passes policy change with 1/3 vote

In a vote that narrowly passed, Student Senate approved a resolution last Thursday in support of the proposed amendment to the Student Rights Policy.

In its revised form the amendment reads, “The third right of students is to have their work evaluated based on stated course and program criteria and appropriate knowledge of the subjects and disciplines they study, as outlined by the relevant faculty.”

Existing University Policy addresses the issues of “Mutual Trust and Respect” and “Fairness and Exemplary Behavior” is its section titled “Goals, Rights, and Responsibilities.”

The Academic Affairs Committee reworked the amendment’s wording after concerns were raised at a forum held last semester. Drafters of the original amendment used language from conservative activist David Horowitz’s Student Bill of Rights.

The resolution is another in many steps that former chair of Student Senate’s Academic Affairs committee Long Pham and current chair Michael Bueti have taken in the long and arduous process of making the amendment University Policy.

The President’s Council makes the ultimate decision on changes to University Policy.

Only 24 Senators out of 29 were in attendance on Thursday, which raised many concerns among those who were there. Nine Senators voted in favor of the resolution, seven were against it, and eight voted abstention.

Junior Joseph Arasin, a computer science and history major who serves as a member of the Academic Affairs committee, was disappointed in the disproportionate number of Senators abstaining. “A Senator should only abstain from a vote when he or she has a personal conflict of interest regarding the motion,” he said.

The close vote was indicative of the heated debate among the Senators. “There definitely was disagreement,” said Arasin, “but no hostility.”

As per Student Senate bylaws, Student Body President Tom Sabram, a senior in chemical engineering, has 120 hours to veto the resolution. In an e-mail, Sabram responded, “I believe this resolution is premature and should have been tabled…. I am still unsure if I will pursue any further action.”

“If Tom feels that students were inadequately or inaccurately represented due to the abstentions, he should veto the motion,” said Arasin. “If he felt that Thursday’s vote was a valid representation, then he shouldn’t veto.”

Bueti and Student Senate chair Julie Beckenstein could not be reached for comment.