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Senate passes fall break resolution, confirms justices, senators

Senator absences prevented the Student Government Association from passing a constitutional amendment. | File Photo/The Cougar

Students may be getting a four-day weekend in October thanks to a resolution passed at Tuesday night’s Student Government Association Senate meeting. The break is currently expected to go into effect for fall 2018, pending approval by other committees at the University.

The University of Houston currently has 69 consecutive class days during the fall semester, according to the resolution, and an average of 3.7 more class days than five comparable Texas universities. If enacted, the legislation would declare the first Monday and Tuesday of October a University holiday. One of the missed class days would be made up during the University’s reading day.

“That’s 69 consecutive days without a break. That’s hard,” said SGA Director of Research Dean Suchy, who helped author the resolution. “As an RA, I’ve seen a lot of people drop out of college or not be able to do certain things because of all the strenuous work that they’re not given time to catch up on.”

A similar break was implemented at a university in Canada, and Suchy said that students reported decreased stress over the following three years. Suchy said this initiative could also help set a precedent for other universities to prioritize mental health.

Despite concerns that there isn’t enough time remaining to justify appointing new senators, the Senate confirmed two students to the legislature.

“The way I see it, this is an unpaid position so there’s no downside,” said SGA President Shane Smith. “If we bring him in and he does work, then it’s beneficial for the students. If he’s unable to accomplish anything, then he got exactly the same amount done as an empty seat.”

While many were in agreement that there isn’t enough time for a new appointee to begin their own project, geosciences junior Edgar Contreras and accounting sophomore Joseph Tajik both said they would work to help other senators wrap up their initiatives for the year.

“The biggest thing when it comes to leadership is supporting things,” Tajik said. “It’s not just doing things.”

Newly appointed Undergraduate at Large Sen. Tajik and College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Sen. Contreras will serve for the remaining six weeks of the 53rd Administration.

The meeting was rounded out by the appointment of two UH Law Center students to the judicial branch, just in time for election season. Timothy Sullivan and Edgar Hernandez were confirmed chief and associate justice, respectively.

Contrary to statements made at the Feb. 1 meeting, Smith clarified that there have been enough justices to stand trial throughout the term.

Three students from SGA’s Emerging Leaders program went before the Senate to propose a project to increase seating in different outdoor locations on campus.

The project, which Undergraduate at Large Sen. Paul O’Brien later said could be funded using the undesignated remaining $4000 in the SGA budget, was ultimately approved to move forward. The student leaders involved may now begin discussions with Administration and Finance, who will help determine whether or not the proposal is achievable.

College of Architecture Sen. Hunter Bodiford stated his support for the plan, but cautioned that it may not fit in with the University’s master plan for the campus. In support, he referenced a previous failed attempt to get a dedicated bench in front of the College of Architecture.

A constitutional amendment clarifying the amount of time an SGA president has to veto a bill was presented before the Senate for a final time, but there were not enough senators present to approve it.

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