LEGISLATION AND POLICY SUB-COMMITTEE 

The University of Texas' Liberal Arts Council tackles a large number of issues in a variety of ways. Among the many ways we solve problems is creating legislation to benefit COLA and the University at large. Policy Sub-Committee exists so that members can develop ideas, understand the policy process, and write legislation before submitting it to Council, other legislative bodies on campus, and administrators. Additionally, Policy Subcommittee is open to all, so everyone is welcome to come and to work on their ideas!


LEGISLATION

LACB 1902 A Bill to Amend the Liberal Arts Council Constitution to Alter the Membership Eligibility of the Publicity Committee

Introduced in Council 4/23/19

Executive Summary: This bill amends the Liberal Arts Constitution to allow New Members to be members of the Publicity Committee.

PASSED

LACB 1901 Amending the Liberal Arts Council Constitution to Directly Elect Executive Board Members

Introduced in Council 4/23/19

Executive Summary: This bill amends the Liberal Arts Constitution to require that all Executive Board members of Liberal Arts Council are elected.

TABLED

LACR 1802 A Resolution in Support of Standardizing Attendance Policies in Foreign Language Classes by Credit Hours

Introduced in Council 4/23/19

Executive Summary: This legislation recommends the standardization of attendance policies in foreign languages classes as determined by credit hours.

PASSED

SR 1823 A Resolution in Support of Notification and Removal of Professors Found Guilty of Sexual Misconduct

Introduced in Senate 4/11/19

Executive Summary: This legislation recommends that professors who have been found guilty of sexual misconduct or violating Title IX policy be removed from the course schedule and from teaching responsibilities.

PASSED

SR 1822 A Resolution in Support of Granting Undergraduate Student Parents Priority Registration

Introduced in Senate 3/28/19

Executive Summary: This legislation is a statement in support of granting undergraduate student parents priority registration. This will allow courses to be more accessible to undergraduate students with dependent children, who typically have more limited schedules than undergraduate students without dependent children.

IN DISCUSSION

JB 1 Codifying the Ad-hoc Joint Resolution Committee

Introduced 3/28/19

Executive Summary: A bill to codify the JR Ad-hoc Committee.

JR 1809 A Resolution in Support of the Creation of a UT Instapoll Task Force

Introduced in Senate 3/28/19

Executive Summary: This legislation would seek to encourage UT faculty to switch from their current classroom response system (iClicker, Reef, Squarecap, Top Hat, etc.) to UT Instapoll. Students at the University of Texas at Austin are faced with the issue of having to purchase subscriptions to multiple classroom response systems that serve the same purpose in different classrooms. Furthermore, due to the variance of systems used in classrooms, students are forced to purchase semester-long subscriptions rather than being able to opt for the better valued year-long subscription. This resolution seeks to encourage the University to advise its faculty to use one response system across all UT classrooms and proposes UT Instapoll as its choice of system. UT Instapoll is integrated into the Canvas App Store and available for free to both instructors and students at the University of Texas at Austin. With UT Instapoll developers on campus, the Liberal Arts Development Studio, UT will have a more direct access to modify the software to best suit the needs of faculty and students alike. This resolution proposes that a task force composed of students, faculty, and UT Instapoll developers be assembled to meet with faculty and departmental heads to promote knowledge of UT Instapoll and ensure proper implementation for faculty adopting this classroom response system.

IN DISCUSSION

SR 1819 A Resolution in Support of Altering the Financial Bar System from Hindering Students from Registering for Classes

Introduced in Senate 3/7/19

Executive Summary: The University of Texas at Austin works on a bar system. In order for students to register for classes, a student must not have any bars. These bars include financial, non-financial, and advising bars. The consequence for these bars puts a burden on students during registration and affects which classes they will be able to get into since most classes have a limited capacity. This can also affect four-year graduation rates for students that have a stringent degree plan and are unable to acquire a seat in the necessary class for a semester. Moreover, some classes are only offered in either the fall or spring semesters and students registering for these classes are disadvantaged by this bar system. This legislation advocates for instituting a forgiveness period for financial bars during registration to ensure that students will not be prevented from registering for minor outstanding fees.

PASSED

SR 1818 A Resolution in Support of Integrating Internal Transfer Students Into Existing Transfer-Year Interest Groups

Introduced in Senate 3/7/19

Executive Summary: This resolution seeks to integrate internal transfer students into existing Transfer-Year Interest Groups (TrIGs). Because internal transfer students are admitted into their majors later than students in their cohort, many do not have the opportunity to form strong social networks with peers in their new college. Currently, the Transfer-Year Experience Program administered by the School of Undergraduate Studies hosts TrIGs led by a peer mentor and staff facilitator. Because TrIGs are voluntary, not all spots are filled by external transfer students. This legislation intends to promote the inclusion of internal transfer students in TrIGs relevant to their discipline by allowing them to fill these vacant spots on an availability basis.

PASSED

SR 1817 A Resolution in Support of Eliminating the Financial Burden of Summer Internships

Introduced in Senate 3/7/19

Executive Summary: This legislation is a statement in support of eliminating the financial burden of summer internship courses by following the policy set out by the McCombs School of Business. This will allow students to take unpaid or paid internships in the summer tuition free reducing their financial burden. McCombs current policy does not require students to pay summer tuition when doing an internship over the summer. All other schools should follow the policy set forth by McCombs.

PASSED

SR 1816 A Resolution in Support of the Creation of an Academic Integrity Module for All Incoming Students

Introduced in Senate 3/7/19

Executive Summary: Academic integrity can be ambiguous to the student body and violations of it affect not just all students, but faculty, staff, and alumni, not to mention the reputation of the University. Students need to know what is expected of them so as not to fall victim to subjectively vague integrity requirements. To address these issues, the Academic Integrity Committee has proposed an Academic Integrity Module, similar in function to AlcoholEdu and Sexual Assault Prevention Unit, that all incoming students will complete. This module will inform students of the University’s Honor Code, academic expectations, specific outlines of academic integrity infractions, and the resources/processes undergone both by the University and students after an infraction.

PASSED

SR 1815 A Resolution in Support of Expanding Accessibility Through the Creation of College/School Filter in the Eureka System for Research Projects

Introduced in Senate 3/7/19

Executive Summary: With the ever-growing competitive environment within the job market, employers are not only looking for excellent grades, resume and extracurricular activities; they are also looking for tangible experiences in the field that they are applying for. Eureka is an online system set up by The University of Texas at Austin to help connect students with research faculty and projects throughout the University. While students are able to search for research faculty by colleges/schools throughout the University, they are unable to do the same when searching for projects they are able to participate in. The current design of only being able to search through “tags” is burdensome to students, and the addition of a search criteria to include search by college within research projects would serve to make the accessibility of research projects and their potential benefit more applicable to students at the University.

PASSED

SR 1814 A Resolution in Support of Establishing an Online Drop-In Tutoring Platform within the Sanger Learning Center 

Introduced in Senate 1/31/19

Executive Summary: The Sanger Learning Center is the most widely used tutoring resource on campus. 54% of incoming freshmen used Sanger’s services in Fall 2017, and approximately 28% of all undergraduate students visited during the 2017-2018 year. Sanger employs student peer tutors and offers a variety of services including academic coaching, one-on-one appointments, drop-in tutoring hours, and study strategies. However, there are many barriers that prevent students from accessing these resources, such as off-campus commitments or living arrangements. Additionally, Sanger has recently experienced budget cuts that have resulted in an increased burden on their full time staff members. One goal that Director Paige Schilt wants to pursue is the piloting of an online drop-in tutoring service, which would allow students to more easily access tutoring that they need. Sanger relies on the Student Services Budgeting Committee (SSBC) for funding, and has requested an allocation for the purpose of hiring an additional full time staff member to allow more time and resources to begin work on the online platform. The Senate of College Councils is the only LSO not represented by a voting member on the SSBC, so this resolution serves as an official recommendation to the committee to support Sanger in their initiative to expand academic resources for students.

PASSED

SR 1813 A Resolution in Support of Encouraging Professors to Increase Grade Transparency on Canvas 

Introduced in Senate 1/31/19

Executive Summary: Canvas is an important way for students to view their standing in a class, namely through weighted grades and other grade-related logistics. However, professors and teaching assistants often times neglect to communicate accurate grade information timely or effectively. This legislation seeks to send professors and teaching assistants a mid-semester message via Canvas, encouraging them to be more transparent in their grading schemes.

PASSED

SR 1812 A Resolution in Support of Notifying Students of Their Imminent Graduation 

Introduced in Senate 1/31/19

Executive Summary: In the Spring of 2017, University of Texas implemented a policy of auto-graduating students who have completed 100% of one Interactive Degree Audit (IDA). There are many complications that arise when a student has been auto-graduated, especially since many are unaware of these policies. This legislation seeks to notify students when they are nearly one semester away from graduation (or being auto-graduated) to provide ample time to meet with their advisors, financially plan for graduation, or restructure their remaining time on the 40 Acres to help them achieve their academic goals.

PASSED

SR 1811 A Resolution in Support of Equitable Seat Allocation through the Course Management System 

Introduced in Senate 1/31/19

Executive Summary: A University of Texas System report on UT students’ use of dual credit classes based on data from 2010-2015 showed that students who enter the University with dual credit have higher retention and graduation rates than their peers who enter with no credit1. Not all high schools in the state give students access to dual credit, AP, or IB classes. At UT, registration times are based on degree completion which enables students who claim credit earned in high school to register at earlier times, putting students who do not come in with credit at a disadvantage when registering for highly sought after classes or classes that they may need to take to fulfill various requirements. Because students who come in with no credit are at a higher risk of dropping out and taking longer than 4 years to complete their degree, this legislation recommends that departments consider the functionality allowed by the new course management system to reserve seats in their classes for students with the last registration times.

PASSED

SR 1810 A Resolution in Support of Reforms to University Policy on Incomplete Marks 

Introduced in Senate 1/31/19

Executive Summary: In undergraduate courses, students may elect to receive an incomplete grade (symbol X) in a course they are taking with faculty approval. However, a policy that few students and faculty members are aware of requires the student’s transcript to maintain record of the incomplete X even after a grade has been assigned (either through a grade change or a permanent F). Furthermore, if a student receives an incomplete at any time, they will no longer be eligible for the university honors distinction. This legislation aims to remove these policies to enact a more fair process for students in the grades and distinctions they attain. With the policies’ removal, the faculty-assigned grade to the student will replace the X on the student’s transcript, and the student will continue to be eligible for university honors.

PASSED

SR 1809 A Resolution in Support of Increasing Accessibility to Pre-Professional Resources on Campus 

Introduced in Senate 1/31/19

Executive Summary: The University of Texas at Austin offers resources for students interested in pursuing professional graduate tracks. These include, but are not limited to, medical school, law school, phd programs etc. However, these resources are not widely publicized, especially to students in non-traditional majors for these graduate programs. This is because many departments aren’t equipped with the information needed to guide students towards these pre-professional resources. Thus, advisors aren’t available to help students find the right offices and programs to contact. An example of this would be the pre-law office, which many students don’t know about or are unsure about how to contact the office. This legislation advocates for increasing accessibility to these resources through the new college to career center website. 

PASSED

JR 1808 A Resolution in Support of Universal Graduate Student Teaching Preparation Guidelines for all UT Programs 

Introduced in Senate 1/31/19

Executive Summary: This bill calls for the establishment of guidelines for minimum Teaching Assistant (TA) and Assistant Instructor (AI) training. This ensures that all TAs and AIs have a baseline education to allow them to be aware of university resources, manage student needs, and perform administrative tasks. This legislation will make departments responsible for ensuring TAs and AIs are successful and competent, ensuring the greatest chance of academic success for their students and a positive work relationship with their faculty.

PASSED

JR 1806 A Resolution in Support of the Creation of Permanent Dean’s Student Advisory Committees 

Introduced in Senate 1/31/19

Executive Summary: Over the past few years, there have been various campus climate issues and events, encompassing nearly every college across the University, which students feel have not always been met with strong and tactful responses by the faculty. To address these problems, some of the colleges across campus have created formal and informal avenues through which students can discuss their grievances and provide feedback to the deans. This bill suggests creating official committees composed of student leaders to report to each and every college’s Dean to voice the students’ concerns, beliefs, and suggestions. The streamlined implementation and consistent communication that these committees will provide can be mutually beneficial to both students and the deans.

PASSED

JR 1808 A Resolution to Recommend the M.A.P (Medical Access Program) Direct Messaging for Uninsured Students 

Introduced in Senate 1/31/19

Executive Summary: Texas Medical Association cites over 4 million adult Texans with no healthcare insurance enrollment. Many of them have no affordable private insurance option or they may be ineligible for government sponsored programs. This coverage gap includes students that attend the University of Texas at Austin. The Travis County Medical Access Program offers an option for these students to receive primary care, emergency care, and prescription services at a significantly reduced cost. This resolution is intended for the purpose of messaging applicable students to learn more information about the program.

PASSED

SR 1807 A Resolution in Support of the Creation of an Ethnic Studies Class 

Introduced in Senate 11/15/18

Executive Summary: The University of Texas at Austin features many introduction classes about several ethnic groups in the US. These include the introduction to Asian American Studies, the introduction to African American Studies, etc. Students outside of the college of liberal arts do not have the opportunity to take multiple classes in this area and thus many of them do not take any of them. In our public K – 12 education system there is a lack of a formalized education in any ethnic studies and many students enter UT with little to no knowledge on the racial history of the US. An introduction to ethnic studies class would provide students in all colleges the opportunity to explore the study of different ethnic groups in the U.S. This legislation aims to create an introduction to ethnic studies class that would be a collaboration between five departments: African and African Diaspora Studies, Asian American Studies, Mexican American Studies, Latin American Studies, and Native American and Indigenous Studies. This class would increase accessibility of ethnic studies to students outside the College of Liberal Arts.

PASSED

SR 1806 A Resolution in Opposition to the Removal of Fields of Study Curricula by UT Faculty Council 

Introduced in Senate 11/15/18

Executive Summary: The University of Texas at Austin Faculty Council passed a resolution in support of removing the ability of transfer students to receive UT credit for completing fields of study at two-year institutions. Fields of study are sequences of classes in one specific area. If a student completes a field of study at another institution, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board currently requires state schools to accept the field of study as complete at the institution to which a student transfers. Should Faculty Council’s recommendation be implemented students who attempt to transfer in credits equivalent to a field of study at UT will no longer be able to do so. This would adversely affect the academic experience of transfer students by hindering their graduation progress and causing financial strain.

PASSED

JR 1808 A Resolution in Support of Scooter Safety and Parking Guidelines on Campus 

Introduced in Senate 11/15/18

Executive SummaryDockless ride sharing vehicles, most acutely Bird and Lime scooters, have steadily increased in usage on the UT campus over the past year, and are now a popular means of transportation for students who need to travel across campus in a short time. However, their popularity has not come without consequences. Unlike traditional bicycles, few students seem aware of existing rules on where scooters or electric bicycles should be parked, and have left vehicles blocking pedestrian paths and entryways to buildings. Also unlike traditional bicycles, which require considerable exertion to go even 15 miles per hour (15 mph), the campus wide speed limit, dockless electric vehicles can reach 15 mph with minimal effort. This results in higher speeds, which correlate with more accidents. Scooter riders have more accidents with road obstacles, other vehicles, and pedestrians, a rate roughly ten times that of traditional bicycles. The worst offenses occur on Speedway Mall, a zone designated with a 5 mph speed limit and a blanket ban on vehicle parking. Some measures have been taken to ensure compliance with existing rules, but more action is needed. Rather than an outright ban, which is plausible if the situation deteriorates, dockless scooters can be brought under existing parking and speed rules so they can remain accessible to all students.

PASSED

JR 1805 A Resolution in Opposition of Raising the Required Number of Members for a Registered Student Organization 

Introduced in Senate 11/15/18

Executive Summary: On November 14th, 2018, the Dean of Students notified student leaders via email of an increase in the required number of members for registered student organizations (RSOs) from 3 people to 10 people. This change comes without a clear justification and may hinder the ability of students to enrich their experiences on the 40 Acres. Furthermore, there are many resources on campus that are limited to RSOs. By changing requirements, a barrier and undue burden is placed on current and future student leaders on campus because they are unable to access these resources. This resolution seeks to allow students to get a well-rounded and enjoyable experience during their time here by opposing this change in requirements.

PASSED

JR 1802 A Resolution in Support of Creating a Native American and Indigenous Cultural and Resource Center 

Introduced in Senate 11/1/18

Executive Summary: This legislation is a statement of student support for the creation of a Native American and Indigenous Cultural and Resource Center on campus. This center will be located in central campus to combat the historical marginalization and displacement that Native American and Indigenous communities continue to endure. Through the hiring of paid staff, provision of centralized resources, service learning opportunities, mentorship, and financial assistance, this center will be a space conducive to the academic, spiritual, cultural, and personal growth of Native American and Indigenous students. This center will not only promote cultural, language, spiritual and intellectual diversity on campus, but also in the greater Austin community and Central Texas area.

PASSED

SR 1804 A Resolution In Support of Changing the Status Quo of Guessing Penalty Policies in the Operating System of Quest  

Introduced in Senate 10/11/18

Executive Summary: This bill seeks to change the default status of the negative grading policy utilized in platforms such as Quest. Currently, students who complete homework on Quest are able to receive negative points on questions for which they respond with inaccurate answers, discouraging them from attempting challenging problems. We argue for the default status of the Quest grading policy to be turned off, and if a professor feels particularly strongly for the negative grading policy for certain assignments it would be their prerogative to turn it on. Many students are just being introduced to new concepts when completing these assignments, and thus should not be negatively penalized when applying these concepts for the first time.

PASSED

JR 1801 A Resolution in Support of Course Content Disclosures in Regards to Sexual Assault on Syllabi 

Introduced in Senate 10/11/18

Executive Summary: Many members of the University of Texas system have reported being survivors of sexual assault. When exposed to content that features sexual assault, these individuals may suffer higher levels of emotional trauma, and there are some courses that feature such topics that are relevant to the course material. When this material is shown without warning, a student’s mental health may be negatively impacted. This legislation seeks to reduce the potential distress of sexual assault survivors by supporting the inclusion of a note on syllabi detailing dates that sensitive content may be shown. By identifying these dates, students can take steps to protect their mental health.

PASSED

SR 1803 A Resolution in Support of Displaying all Completed Majors on Transcripts 

Introduced in Senate 9/27/18

Executive Summary:  The University of Texas at Austin offers students the ability to work towards any number of majors. However, official transcripts only display a maximum of two majors. Students who have worked to earn more than two majors do not receive official recognition for their accomplishment. This could potentially harm students looking for jobs as their transcript doesn’t reflect all their areas of study. This also discourages students who want to pursue more than two majors. This legislation advocates for transcripts to display all of a students’ majors on their transcript.

PASSED

SR 1802 A Resolution in Support of Integrating Potential Test Credit into the Interactive Degree Audit System 

Introduced in Senate 9/27/18

Executive Summary: The University of Texas at Austin features an Interactive Degree Audit where students can track their progress towards the completion of their degree. Many students have credits through AP/IB/Dual credit that progress them towards completing their requirements. However, the testing site where students claim credit does not show how potential credit will affect their degree progress. Thus, many students are wary of claiming credit due to the expenses associated with it since they aren’t sure how much they will need to claim. In addition, many advisors tell freshmen to hold off on claiming credit until later semesters where they are more knowledgeable of the credit they will need to claim. This leads to students having later registration times and makes the credit-claiming process less transparent. This legislation advocates for the creation of a system on the Interactive Degree Audit that allows students to “apply” credit they have onto their audit to see how their credit would potentially affect their IDA degree percentage completion.

PASSED

SR 1801 In Support of Decreasing Perceived Financial Barriers to Study Abroad Program 

Introduced in Senate 9/13/18

Executive Summary: Many students have a difficult time finding study abroad programs that work under their financial situation. This legislation seeks to facilitate study abroad program accessibility by introducing reforms to the study abroad website. This can be accomplished by adding a “Search by Program Cost” filter to the “Find a Program” page. Furthermore, although a “Low Cost Programs” page exists, it should provide information regarding specific affordable programs. In addition, creating a page that lists program-specific scholarships, if any are available, and linking it to each individual program site could resolve an anticipated or perceived financial barrier. While a general “Scholarships” tab can already be found on the program page, making program-specific scholarships directly viewable can make the study abroad search much less daunting and more organized.

PASSED


POLICY SUGGESTION BOX

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