Student Government approves resolution supporting adoption of the Chicago Statement free speech standards

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Student government president Colton Becker presents two assembly bills he authored to the floor. Assembly Bills 14 and 15 would create two excellency awards to recognize student members and faculty or staff.

Photo Credit: Blaine Young | Daily Texan Staff

Student Government approved an assembly resolution supporting the adoption of Chicago Statement free speech standards and proposed legislation for creating new excellence awards.

Liberal arts representative Lillian Bonin said the Chicago Statement is “not a legal document” but “an aspirational piece” describing free speech on college campuses. Currently, there is a lawsuit against UT by advocacy organization Speech First preventing a free speech policy change.

“The University adopting this … would not change any policy,” government junior Bonin said. “Ideally, the University, if they adopted this, would want to change their policy to be aligned with it, but it does not require anything. And also … University policy’s already significantly in line with this.”

Jordan Cope, law school representative, said he believes the resolution could help draw future students to UT.

“I think a beautiful part about this resolution is, in essence, it’s promoting something that we deeply need, which is better civil discourse on campus,” law school student Cope said. “Hopefully … students that may feel concerned about the amount of tolerance on our campus — they’ll better reconsider the University of Texas when applying and realize that if we pass this, this could be more tolerant to ideological diversity, and therefore, we’ll be able to recruit a more intellectually and ideologically diverse class.”

In Joint Resolution 8, Senate of College Council members suggested standardized guidelines for teaching assistants and assistant instructors. The basic training would elaborate on campus resources and ways to carry out their student and administrative-related duties.

 

Student Body President Colton Becker took the floor to explain Assembly Bill 14, which would create the Soncia Reagins-Lilly Award for Administrative Excellence, and Assembly Bill 15, which would create the Student Government Excellency Awards for Outstanding Leadership and Community Impact. Each award would recognize someone who has aided in the accomplishments of SG initiatives, though that someone would be a faculty or staff member with the Reagins-Lilly Award and an SG member outside a leadership role with the Student Government Excellency Award.

“(We excluded executive board and assembly board) to make sure that we are recognizing someone who’s not in a leadership position in student government, someone who’s taken a little bit more initiative outside of the normal role to really make sure that this is a successful organization,” said Benjamin Solder, speaker of the assembly.

Joint Resolution 7 and Assembly Bill 13 were also approved. The bill proposed changing SURE Walk to Sure Walk in order to better reflect their mission, and the joint resolution supported an initiative to contact uninsured students about the Medical Access Program, through which they can receive medical care.

Assembly Resolution 13, which supports bike safety on San Jacinto Boulevard through the suggested implementation of bike lanes, was approved. The death of Anthony John Diaz in a collision involving his bike and a Capital Metro bus sparked the resolution.

“(Campus Bike Alliance) would like to establish a ghost bike memorial (for Diaz),” Solder said. “That is separate from this legislation, but we did get approval for a temporary memorial from the Office of the Dean of Students, and we’re working on a permanent memorial with Campus Planning.”