The Senate of College Councils proposed multiple bills and resolutions Thursday night to promote inclusivity within the organization and the University as a whole.
Senate Bill 1610 calls to bring former At-Large Representatives back into the Senate fold by expanding the Returning At-Large program to add two members to each internal committee, bringing the total membership of Senate to 80 people. An At-Large Representative is a student who serves on a committee within Senate Internal and works on programming and legislation for the whole University.
Luciano Barraza, Senate vice president-elect and co-author of SB 1610, said the Returning At-Large program is a program within Senate that offers people a chance to stay within the organization if they are not serving as a co-chair role.
“We are making these two legislative changes tonight as a stepping stone to begin to improve this process in Senate culture overall,” Barraza said. “Ultimately changes regarding the culture of an organization are going to be solved with legislation. We are committed to creating an environment that is collaborative.”
Barraza said the first major change of SB 1610 is it will move the Returning At-Large program directly under the supervision of the administrative director.
“We think this is beneficial because down the line this will make sure the administrative directors understand that this is part of their duties,” Barraza said.
Rhetoric junior Caity Campbell, recruitment and retention co-chair and co-author of SB 1610, said the second major bill change is increasing the number of Returning At-Larges from 8 to 14.
“This (resolution) is to address the move up or move out culture that has been talked about in Senate,” Campbell said. “This (resolution) just ensures Senate is a more inclusive organization and that we’re allowing first year At-Larges to return, to continue their leadership skills and to hopefully work on some initiatives they might have.”
Campbell said At-Larges can either return to the committee they served on the previous year or move to another one.
This change would bring the membership of Senate to a total of 80 individuals: 8 Executive Board members, 16 Chairs, 14 Returning At-Large Representatives and 42 At-Large Representatives.
In addition, Senate Resolution 1617 was proposed in support of adding closed captioning to live, online courses.
According to the resolution, students currently have to submit a request to Services for Students with Disabilitites to caption their classes, and the resolution would alleviate this barrier by implementing closed captioning to all live online courses provided by the University.
Radio-television-film freshman James Treuthardt, policy committee member of Communication Council and co-author of the resolution, said upon discovering current online lectures do not offer closed captioning unless specifically requested, he and the co-authors of the resolution simply wanted to make it required for all.
“We want to make it a proactive rather than a reactive,” Treuthardt said. “We should already have those systems enacted before so we can make sure all students feel included in online classes.”
SR 1618 was proposed to add new tab to the MyStatus homepage linking the CTL Test Results and Course Petititoning to the UTDirect website.
All three resolutions were sent back to the councils for further consideration.