In a short meeting Tuesday night, the Student Government senate couldn’t reach a decision on a bill that would raise the required grade-point average for students working under any branch of SG.
The floor was divided on constitutional amendment bill 47-132, which would change Article I of the SG constitution to require that all employees and volunteers under any SG department hold a 2.5 or above institutional academic GPA.
Currently, any member of SG must maintain a 2.0 GPA, the same average that the University requires students to hold in order to remain in good academic standing.
For the second week in a row, the bill’s concept has come under scrutiny from many senators. As of Tuesday, no decision could be reached.
All constitutional amendments must be read on the senate floor at three separate meetings before they may be voted on. Tuesday night was the bill’s second reading.
Arguments ran equally on both sides. Those in favor of the GPA increase remained firm in their belief that senators and those on the judicial and executive branches should be held to a higher standard and should have the ability to balance the responsibilities of school and work.
Others argued that an increase should happen, but 2.5 was too high, and possibly 2.25 would be more reasonable.
“Most likely, if a student slacks on their grades, they’ll slack on their job – they’ll slack on their students,” Sen. Kyle Neal said.
Other senators cited that those students who are close to the 2.0 mark might shrug off school even more in order to be more involved with SG.
“This is not just about if you are capable or not,” Sen. Chirag Vijapura said. “I don’t want people failing out of school for Student Government.”
Those opposed to the bill called into question the ability for SG to keep a full staff if the bill should pass.
Sen. Matt Coppens caught the attention of the bill’s author, Sen. Mark Vila, when he brought up the fact that many departments such as SAFE Team and WBUL fall under the SG umbrella, and therefore those students would also need to maintain the 2.5 standard. Several suggestions were offered as to ways to adjust this. On the advice of Sen. Erin Fisher, Vila chose to amend the bill so those in the various external departments could keep their jobs and the bill’s main objective would not be lost.
Under the new amendment, anyone wishing to work in any department of SG can petition senate and have the opportunity to keep or acquire a job if their GPA is below the standard.
Other opposition came from senators who said raising the GPA would make senate appear to be more of an elitist group rather than an open venue for students to come to with concerns. Several senators said that students’ GPAs may not be reflective of their leadership abilities, and excluding that group of students could make the senate less effective.
“GPA only represents one facet of what you do (as a student) … only one aspect of what you get out of class,” Sen. Sheldon Tomlinson said. “There is so much more to someone than just a number.”
The evening reached a climax as several senators said they felt they were being personally attacked. Others felt that some comments were demeaning to the student body as a whole.
“To say someone is stupid because they can’t get a 2.5 GPA is asinine,” Sen. Kyle Swanson said.