Written by Grace Schrobilgen.
On Saturday, November 4th, Liberal Arts Council Policy Coordinators Chloe Kersh and Ardian Shaholli and Vice President Quynhanh Tran hosted a Policy Brunch in the Dies Center in the College of Liberal Arts building. This event allowed council members to convene and discuss policy and brainstorm ideas for the Senate Policy Challenge.
New member Ian McEntee brought up one of the primary pieces of legislation that was discussed. McEntee wanted to write a policy in support of professors putting trigger warnings in their syllabi that indicate the exact days where potentially sensitive content will be discussed. That way, if a student knows that the lesson could put them in an uncomfortable situation, they have the option to not attend that particular class session.
While students would still be responsible for knowing the material for tests, this policy would give them the freedom to decide what type of content they are exposed to.
Another major piece of legislation came from Vice President Quynhanh Tran and concerns UT’s policy of automatic graduation. Under this policy, if a student completes one major in their Interactive Degree Audit, they are considered to have graduated from the University. Not only can this negatively affect financial aid, it can impact students with two or more majors who finish one of them before their final semester, UTeach students who teach at public schools during their last semester, and students hoping to study abroad during their final semester.
Tran created a Qualtrics survey that will be sent to students to capture their opinions on the situation, which will then be used to write legislation in support of overturning this policy.
When asked about the inspiration behind Policy Brunch, Chloe Kersh said that it gives members a unique opportunity to learn about legislation because they are able to see it written all in one place, as weekly one-hour Policy Subcommittee meetings are not long enough to finish an entire resolution. In an organization as large and as involved as LAC, we sometimes forget that policy is one of the main reasons we exist.
Kersh said, “I think legislation is intimidating to many because of its structure and formality of presentation. Also, I know that writing it is not interesting to everyone. However, I think it is critical that all LAC members are policy-literate.”
Legislation is an incredibly valuable tool for allowing students to push for initiatives and changes they hope to see at the University level, and Policy Brunch was one way of easing students into the process of writing it.