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Friday, November 16, 2018

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SGA passes transgender inclusion legislation, makes appointments


Student Government Association Senators discussed legislation including bills affecting homeless and transgender students. | Jasmine Davis/The Cougar

The Student Government Association Senate passed two pieces legislation, including a bill regarding transgender inclusion on campus, and appointed numerous Senate and committee members Wednesday night.

The Transgender Inclusion Act allows students to change their preferred name on their Cougar Card. The meeting also included the first reading of the Homeless Student Relief Act, which intends to reduce the price of meal plans for homeless UH students.

“One of the new features of the new Cougar Card system is that you can input your preferred name in AccessUH and throughout the University system,” said SGA Deputy Chief of Staff Allison Lawrence.

The Transgender Inclusion Act was written in joint effort with the LGBTQ Resource Center and although it was written with transgender students in mind, Lawrence said all students will have the power to change their preferred name on their Cougar Card and in the UH system.

“I have heard that some students have already been able to change their names from the LGBTQ Resource Center,” Lawrence said. “So that’s really exciting.”

The other bill passed, the Transferal of Clerking Duties Act, would allow the speaker of the Senate to name a legislative chief of staff. The legislative chief of staff would then take over the clerk’s, such as transcribing the meetings and keeping minutes.

According to the bill, the clerk position has historically been hard to fill.

SGA President Cameron Barrett said the Homeless Student Relief Act was inspired by a student he worked with during his campaign. He has spent the past three months meeting with UH Auxiliary Services to provide a better option for homeless students.

In addition to allowing homeless students to purchase a meal plan at a 70 percent cost reduction, the act would allow homeless students who live on campus during the school year to be exempt from the housing meal plan requirement.

“If you’re a homeless student, at least this is one less struggle you have,” Barrett said. “You would have a consistent source of food.”

Barrett said this initiative was partly made possible due to the improvements to the food services contract when the University switched providersto Chartwells from Aramark.

The Homeless Student Relief Act is slated to go up for a vote at the Senate’s Oct. 31 meeting. If passed, the act would still need approval from the UH System Board of Regents since it would add an additional meal plan option.

The Election Day Reform Act, read for the first time Wednesday, would change the days students vote during SGA elections. Currently, students vote on six days spread out across multiple weeks. The proposed change would open voting for a one-week period at the end of February.

According to the bill, the change would help prevent voter fatigue and minimize the amount of time students and candidates are distracted from class.

SGA allows their senators unlimited proxies, or the ability to vote on behalf of a senator who is absent from the meeting. The Solution to Proxies Act wants to change this to allow only one proxy per meeting per senator or two per senator during the special Senate meeting.

The act was supposed to go up for a vote Wednesday, but Bauer College of Business Sen. Kobe Terrier noticed the wording was not specific enough.

“It was brought to my attention that we put the executive branch, specifying the executive branch will not be able to accept any proxies, needs to also say the judicial branch cannot hold proxies,” Sen. Terrier said.

A new senator for the Cullen College of Engineering was approved during the meeting. Electrical engineering sophomore Aristotle Economon hopes to work to reform teacher evaluations and make it easier to switch majors and minors within the College of Engineering.

Three students were also appointed to committees during the meeting.

Political science and economics freshman Randolph Campbell was approved to the Food Service Advisory Committee. Music education and performance junior Christian Ibanez was confirmed to the Campus Recreation Advisory Board. Liberal studies freshman Austin Mitchell approved to the Student Housing and Residential Life Advisory Committee.

The next SGA meeting will be held Oct. 31 in the SGA Senate Chamber, and President Barrett encouraged the SGA senators to wear costumes.

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