Associated Student Government (ASG) voted to pass two bills to change the structure and operations of its Oversight Committee and to adjust the wording of its recently drafted non-discrimination statement during senate session on Tuesday, March 12.
The new Oversight Committee will include the senate parliamentarian as a non-voting member to act as an expert on ASG's bylaws.
Currently, the committee, which is responsible for disciplining senators, has only two punitive measures in case the senator brought before them is found guilty: censure, which is a formal way for senate to condemn a member's actions, and dismissal. The bill adds an additional measure for cases the committee decides are less extreme.
The committee now has the option to grant a senator an "improvement period" with a predetermined length of time and course of action decided for each case for the senator to demonstrate more suitable behavior. At the end of the improvement period, the Oversight committee votes on whether the senator has sufficiently demonstrated correct behavior and either fully pardons or further sanctions the senator.
The Oversight Committee bill also removes all language referring to student court, as the court likely will not be in place for the 2019-2020 academic year, as reported by The Miami Student.
ASG also passed a bill that changed the language of its statement of non-discrimination, an action meant to continue its mission to make senate more inclusive, with 24 senators voting for the revision, five voting against and four abstensions. The new statement includes definitions for discrimination and harassment and a clause to ensure equal access to opportunities for all senators, meaning no senator can be barred from participating in committee programs, elections, employment and other ASG activities on a discriminatory basis.
The bill also added national origin, ancestry, political affiliation, ideology, physical condition and pregnancy to the list of aspects of a student's identity that ASG cannot discriminate against.
An amendment was proposed by Senator Adrian Radilla to remove political affiliation and ideology from the list of protected groups, for fear that it would discourage senators from using their political values to inform their decisions.
"It is my inherent right and part of the political process for me to vote for someone I agree with, and that is not discrimination. This will inherently limit free speech," Radilla said.
Other senators felt the bill was necessary to ensure they will be listened to in the senate chamber.
"In my time here, I have most certainly been discriminated against because of my political affiliation and ideology," Senator Kyle Kufrin, who identifies as politically conservative, said. "If you don't want to hear what anybody else has to say regardless of their political affiliation, that's wrong; you shouldn't be here."
Senate passed the bill, but the amendment was rejected with 10 senators for, 26 against and one abstention.
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At tonight's meeting, senate will decide whether to add the Secretary of Diversity and Inclusion as an additional non-voting member of the Oversight Committee.