SGA passes absence policy amendment

Speaker of Senate Alex Ballard proposed an amendment to the absence policy, changing how censures work. The senate unanimously passed the amendment Oct. 20. Photo by Gracie Fleischman

Senators won’t automatically be brought up for censure after four absences anymore, as student government unanimously passed an amendment to the absence policy at the senate meeting Oct. 20.

A censure is a formal disapproval in front of the senate when a senator has acquired four absences or demonstrates unsatisfactory behavior.

Last school year, three senators were censured for acquiring four absences, according to The Panther archives.

The student body also passed a proposal April 3 to restructure the senate, reducing the total number of senators from 29 to 16.

The amendment, which was proposed by Speaker of Senate Alex Ballard, will allow the president, vice president and speaker of senate to decide whether a censure is added to the agenda at the next senate meeting if a senator has four absences. Right now, a censure is automatically added to the agenda to be brought before the senate if a senator has four absences.

“This new amendment is a final product of many weeks of discussion that we have been having internally within (student government) with regards to accountability,” Ballard said.

The amendment aims to balance accountability for senators while also taking situations like family deaths, hospitalizations or emergencies into account.

“The new policy does not change our policy that we have in place right now, where we have a certain number of absences regardless of excused or unexcused,” Ballard said. “If it’s for a family emergency, it’s still counted toward your total, so really, we’re not excusing anything.”

Vice President Sarah Tabsh previously proposed an amendment to the senate attendance policies at the Oct. 13 senate meeting that would allow absences to be excused by the vice president under “extenuating circumstances.”

That amendment proposal, which the senate denied, would have allowed only three unexcused absences, as opposed to the four absences currently allowed. Tabsh said that the amendment would have created a loophole, because the “discretion” of the future vice presidents is subjective.

Schmid College of Science and Technology Senator Alyssa Nowlen said at the Oct. 13 senate meeting that she doesn’t think student government needs an absence policy.

“We should all be here,” Nowlen said during the meeting. “We have a responsibility in doing so.”

Ian Policarpio, the College of Performing Arts senator, disagreed and supported the need for an amendment to the absence policy.

“Being in the hospital isn’t exactly a conflict of priorities, your parents dying isn’t exactly a conflict of priorities,” Policarpio said at the senate meeting.

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