At the Feb. 5 University of Georgia Student Government Association Senate meeting, senators passed legislation to fund free business attire for students and heard a proposed amendment to the SGA Constitution to change the role of vice president.
In his officer report, SGA President Ammishaddai Grand-Jean discussed his administration’s initiative to amend the grade scale policy by adding an A-plus to the scale and limiting the amount of tests students can take in a single day to three. Grand-Jean said that currently, the grade scale policy would not change GPAs, as an A-plus would be a 4.0 for UGA transcript purposes. Instead, the grade’s addition would have benefits for graduate school admissions.
“The idea of having this A-plus is for students to be recognized for their hard work,” Grand-Jean said. “Imagine you’re applying to law school … and your GPA is a 3.3, which is not the highest, but you can say, ‘Look, I got a 3.3 because my sciences are not the best, but look at economics, look at philosophy.”
Some organizations, including the Law School Admission Council, rescale undergraduate GPAs to their weights and give an A-plus higher weight than a 4.0.
Grand-Jean said the decision to have A-plus grades would be at the discretion of professors. He said a survey sent by SGA to faculty members showed that 55 percent were in favor of the idea.
Grand-Jean also said his administration was proposing to limit tests to three in one day, similar to the policy in place during finals. Under the policy, students with three tests in one day could negotiate rescheduling one exam with professors. Both policies will be voted on by the Educational Affairs Committee later this month.
SGA Vice President Charlene Marsh said she is working on expanding access to feminine hygiene products across campus, particularly to low-income students. Additionally, she said she is working on formulating best practices for mental health across campus and in the classroom.
Treasurer Destin Mizelle said he was working on coming up with the SGA budget for the next administration, and also working with SGA Freshman programs to work on safety initiatives, including more lighting. At the Jan. 22 Senate meeting, members of Mizelle’s All-Campus Allocation Committee were confirmed and he announced their sponsorship of a Georgia Daze event.
Also at the Jan. 22 meeting, members of the Elections Committee were confirmed. SGA campaigns will begin later this month. No legislation was on the agenda regarding this issue.
At the most recent meeting, Senators passed Resolution 31-11 “to establish a professional clothing closet to provide free business attire for students.” According to Terry College of Business Senator Matthew McDaniel and First-Year SGA Senator Sabina Ashurova, both sponsors, UGA paid $118,000 in scholarships for students who receive need-based aid to buy professional clothes at JCPenney in fall 2018.
McDaniel said the program's availability is limited to students who qualify for need-based aid and sign up during the short application period.
“The entire university needs this,” McDaniel said. “There are students who may not be as fortunate as some of us in this room to own a suit, jacket, tie.”
The legislation passed with zero opposition.
Franklin College Senator Patrick Femia presented Amendment 31-01, which would remove the vice president as the presiding officer of the Senate and lessen the responsibilities of the president pro tempore. As a constitutional amendment, the legislation requires two readings before being voted on by senators. Under the proposal, which will be voted on at the next Senate meeting, the president of the Senate would be popularly elected by the Senate.
“This change is necessary, and I don’t think it has anything to do with this administration or prior administrations,” Femia said. “I think it is a change that makes Senate more independent and able to pursue its own initiatives.”
Femia said he spoke with SEC schools that operate under this SGA model for their input in crafting the amendment. Under the proposal, the vice president would now oversee special projects. Femia added that 10 out of 14 SEC schools use this model.
Many non-senators, including former SGA Vice President Roya Naghepour, came to hear the proposal. Naghepour asked a number of questions about the amendment, such as whether Femia had considered remedies like impeachment already in place to deal with overreaching executive action. Grand-Jean asked about the possibility of the model leading to a divide between the executive and legislative branches.
Femia responded to questions before the meeting was adjourned without formal debate. At the next meeting, senators will debate and vote on the amendment