The Student Government Association Senate passed two more pieces of legislation on Wednesday related to cultural competency training and career development, following President Micheal Luecke’s recent veto of the first bill of the year.
Honors College Senator Jermaine “JT” Turner brought forward a cultural competency initiative for the Orientation and Transition Programs department. The bill requests that OTP mandates diversity training for all employees, incoming freshmen and transfer students.
“If you come from a very conservative hometown, we all know [the diversity of the campus] can be a culture shock,” Turner said.
In 2020, the university achieved the designations of Minority Serving Institution and Hispanic Serving Institution from the Department of Education. This means at least 25 percent of full-time undergraduates are Hispanic, according to the Department of the Interior.
Turner said these designations, combined with the findings of the Campus Inclusion Climate Survey that the highest rate of experienced discrimination on campus is based on race and ethnicity, warranted the cultural competency training.
OTP already has experience with these training courses, having given them during the student orientation sessions this past summer. Cultural competency training was also given to the university police department in the past.
College of Science Senator Victoria Nguyen drafted a bill modeled after her Career Center, career coach and senate partnership announced in October.
“A lot of students end up graduating without a job,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen’s legislation implements a partnership between the Career Center, specific university career coaches and SGA beginning in the spring of 2021. Examples of the collaboration include SGA advertising various networking events, including the Professional Networking Series, and helping to plan them. As the university offers monthly career fairs for a specific college, SGA would help career coaches plan the month before said fair to bring students’ desired employers.
In the previous senate session on Nov. 11, the Senate referred a third bill to a committee instead of passing it.
Texas Academy of Mathematics & Science Senator Navy Chintaman proposed a menstrual hygiene initiative. The bill called for the placement of menstrual product dispensers in women’s and unisex bathrooms in every academic building.
“I wrote this bill because […] period poverty and menstrual equity are very important to me,” Chintaman said.
The legislation called for a university-wide fundraiser to fund the initiative and an SGA partnership with Facilities until the latter department can afford the menstrual products on its own. Chintaman said Facilities is currently underfunded due to the cost of COVID-19 prevention efforts, so “some organization should stand up and address [period poverty].”
The senator said SGA already has a $950 menstrual hygiene fund for the upcoming spring, which originated from the previous administration’s initiative where baskets of menstrual products were placed in bathrooms of several buildings.
“Putting out baskets [with menstrual products] is not just the goal,” Chintaman said. “I want it to eventually be that Facilities pays for menstrual products like Facilities pays for toilet paper and soap.”
The Senate unanimously voted to refer the bill to the Senate Student Affairs Committee to further define the logistics after some senators expressed discomfort with asking for money from students or organizations for this cause.
Featured Image: SGA senators listen to the end of meeting announcements on Jan. 16, 2020. Image by John Anderson