Student Government

SGA passes advising bill, resolution supporting Tier One initiatives

The Student Government Association had its first senate meeting of the semester on Wednesday. | Steven Chambers/The Cougar

The Student Government Association had its first senate meeting of the semester on Wednesday. | Steven Chambers/The Cougar

The Student Government Association held its first Senate meeting Wednesday and passed two of the biggest movements on the committee’s agenda:  SGAB-51004 Advising Reform and Graduation Success Act, which will decrease the student-to-adviser ratio over five years. SGA also passed a resolution that expresses its support for the UH administration and the Board of Regents in their goals of becoming a fully Tier One university.

The Advising Reform and Graduation Success Act was introduced in July and after heated debate was passed with a 23-to-1 vote with one abstention. This bill hopes to lower the student-to-adviser ratio from the University average of 293-to-1 to the NACADA recommended standard of 250-to-1.

The reform also calls for improvement in the quality of advising sessions and mandatory advising holds to be placed on students after they have completed 30, 60 and 90 credit hours. The reform will also allow for students to be able to answer surveys regarding their advising experience. In addition, profiles on students will be available to advisors so they will have more information to work with.

“Student success is very important to the University of Houston, and intervention from advising may make students significantly more successful,” SGA President Charles Haston said.

A resolution stating that SGA fully supports the UH administration and the Board of Regents in their goal to reach full Tier One status was also passed. This comes on the heels of a proposal mandating freshmen to live on campus in UH housing, which was publicly opposed by UH alumnus and State Senator John Whitmire.

The proposal would have required all new freshmen to live on campus; however, certain students would have been able to waive this requirement. To qualify for a waiver the student must demonstrate financial difficulty or have a medical need. The bill did not affect students who live with a parent, legal guardian, are married, have a child or live within a 20-mile radius of the school.

Additional reporting by Arianne Goddard.

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  • “@TheDailyCougar @BenjaminEW This whole debacle started w/ Sen Whitmire leaking text messages. #hypocrisy
    Retweeted by The Cougar”

    Haston, you weren’t obligated to continue this “debacle” on Facebook. Show some leadership and stop using social media to display your disagreements.

    Also, the entire advising situation would have likely never been addressed if it wasn’t for like-minded senators as I remember this was not on your platform when you ran. Give credit where credit is due.

    • One of the advising bill’s authors/Academic affairs chair here. Haston made invaluable contributions to the reform by communicating a lot with administrators as the four authors wrote it. It actually started out from Joshua Freed (Deputy Chief of Staff in the executive branch), who reached out to both Charles and I. We were then joined by NSM senator Enrique Martinez and External Affairs member Charlotte Christian.

      I do wish the Cougar would talk to or at least mention the actual authors of the bill rather than just the president, but that’s the Cougar’s fault, not his. It was no small amount of work and it’s an awfully big deal considering it affects the academic services offered to every student, and several past administrations have talked about the idea of improving it on end but done nothing.

      • That I agree with, I do however believe that President Haston needs to address how he handled the situation with Whitmire because whether he knows it or not it is hurting his credibility. SGA is widely seen across campus as elitist and the Facebook conversation posted by The Daily Cougar doesn’t help to rectify that sentiment. There is a reason SGA doesn’t have heavy student involvement as it could. Why not have SGA senators and even the president have a university-wide townhall meeting? Address the immediate concerns of students? Even if those concerns are not solved at the very least dialogue has been established. I would love to see this happen before I graduate next spring because I care so much about UH.

  • It’s OK to voice disagreement with our elected representatives. Sen. Whitmire was clearly off-base with his little temper tantrum. Had he taken the time to study the initiative to have freshmen live on campus he would have seen (clearly) that students such as he was would have been exempt from the mandate. Classic case of foot-in-mouth disease. It is mandatory that UH’s leadership, including its student leadership, press forward with the initiative to move UH into full Tier One academic status.

    In addition, the upgrading to what were once satellite campus to full four-year college status is vital to the mission of the University in living up to its charter to provide accessible educational opportunities to the vast metropolitan area that Houston has become. UH can no longer serve as a one-stop educational facility to students who must commute 30, 40 and more miles from the far flung reaches of the metropolitan Houston area. But, UH can take education to the citizens with its plan to provide quality, accessible education through what were once mere extensions of the Main Campus.

    Moreover, it is vital that these new campuses be organized into a coherent whole, with a distinct identity, using, for example, City University of New York as a model. CUNY has a long established reputation as an urban institution providing affordable and accessible education to the vast NYC metropolitan area. If organized appropriately the developing “system” campus can achieve a similar stature. I would think Senator Whitmire and his colleagues would be in favor of such an initiative.

    Having said that, it is also vital to the interests of the University to have our elected representatives in full support of this mission. Moreover, it is vital to the interests of the City of Houston to have a Tier One state-supported school within the city’s boundaries. UH is fully capable of taking its place along side the Texas Medical Center as a major research and employment center. Such a center drives job creation and employment. In order to press on with this work, UH will need the full backing and support of all its elected representatives.

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