SGA to revisit amnesty bill

The Good Samaritan Bill seeks Senate approval once again at tonight’s Student Government Association meeting.

At-Large Sen. and author of the bill Michael Blunk withdrew the legislation on Oct. 8 after it received opposition from nearly half the Senate.

The legislation essentially allows lessened disciplinary action in instances of drug or alcohol possession among persons reporting an emergency.

The bill received opposition from the Senate because some felt it would encourage drug use and alcohol consumption among both individual students and student groups.

Blunk will propose an amended version of the bill to provide the Senate with a clearer explanation at tonight’s SGA meeting.

"I wanted to put more specifics in there," Blunk said. "(The original bill) was a little vague, and it needed more background information."

The extent to which student organizations would be protected under the bill in the event of a drug or alcohol-related emergency was unclear in the original legislation. Blunk wanted to make it clear that amnesty would not be granted to organizations involved in the distribution of drugs or to alcohol to a minor. The bill stipulates that student organizations in violation of the University’s drug policy in that regard would still receive punitive sanction.

"I want to make a distinction that the bill is not protecting students from criminal charges of minor possession of substances, it only deals with how the Dean of Students will handle the situations," Blunk said.

The Student Video Network recorded a question-and-answer session last week between both Blunk and opposing Law Sen. Norman Nelson in an effort to encourage more student input on the Good Samaritan Bill. The Student Video Network plans to post the video on media outlets such as Facebook, but the official date has not been determined.

Blunk said he believes changes and clarifications made to the bill will ensure Senate approval this time around.

"After talking to a lot of senators, I think it will have enough support to pass," said Blunk.

The SGA Senate also plans to introduce legislation geared toward student empowerment at tonight’s meeting. An official Student Academic Bill of Rights that defines in-class practices and administrative procedures for students will also be proposed.

The purpose of the bill of rights is to both protect students from academic discrimination and reserve students’ rights to a fair and impartial appeals process regarding course requirements, classroom procedures and grades that can be shown as a violation of academic policies.

"This is a real source of empowerment of students because it outlines the rights students are entitled to at the University," SGA Prsident Sam Dike said.

With 13 authors, the Student Academic Bill of Rights has the largest number of authors for any bill in SGA history, Dike said.

Senate Speaker Pro-Tem Kelly Evans will also introduce a College Council amendment to add to the student government constitution. This amendment will allow unified groups to act as miniature student governments within their academic colleges in order to focus on college-specific needs or interests, and relay those concerns to their departmental dean.

"We want to empower more students to take an active role in their future and University," Dike said. "One way to do this is by creating representative organizations. SGA will not dictate how they are set up or run, as long as it does not violate our laws. They will have self determination on their structure and focus."

Lastly, in light of the various on-campus organizations that work individually lobbying on related goals, the Senate will vote on legislation to establish a University External Affairs committee consisting of students, staff, faculty and administration that will focus on off-campus initiatives that affect the University.

The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the University Center, Mediterranean Room.

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