Central Student Government on Tuesday discussed seven proposed changes to the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities and passed a resolution to include mental health services in course syllabi.
The statement governs non-academic behavioral conduct at the University. Amended every three years, the statement features expectations for student conduct, and suggests sanctions and disciplinary procedures for violations such as illegal drug and alcohol use, hazing and sexual misconduct.
CSG proposed seven amendments this cycle: establish formal venues for students to weigh in on several amendments, including the addition of an honor pledge, include statement education during new student orientation, specification of a consistent 3-year amendment cycle, specify the scope of violations and formalize the University president’s need to chose amendments before the end of the school year.
CSG president Cooper Charlton, an LSA senior, said CSG General Counsel Jacob Pearlman, a Public Policy sophomore, was largely responsible for the creation and submission of the amendments.
“This amendment process was truly gruesome,” Charlton said.
Pearlman addressed the assembly about the seven amendments, which were submitted Monday to the Student Relations Advisory Committee.
CSG’s proposals — as well as proposed amendments submitted by the Executive Officers and the Faculty Senate — will be sent to the Student Relations Advisory Committee, which serves as a liaison between the Faculty Senate and CSG.
Recommended amendments will then be filtered through E. Royster Harper, vice president for student life, and Timothy Lynch, University vice president and general counsel.
Once the proposals have been reviewed, the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel will forward its recommendations to the Office of the President by March 2016.
University President Mark Schlissel would make final decisions on which revisions will go into effect by July 1 of next year.
Pearlman said CSG should play a role not just in adding amendments to the statement, but approving amendments put forth by other governing branches. He said all amendments should be filtered through CSG, which is largely overlooked through the current process.
“Skipping student input here, I don’t like that,” Pearlman said. “An executive officer or the Faculty Senate could propose amendments to SRAC that CSG would never see … Giving CSG the power to recommend or not reccomend all proposals and not simply their own.”
After the January ski trip at a Northern Michigan ski trip resulted in thousands of dollars of damage last year, a CSG task force commissioned a proposal to add an additional honor code as a supplement to the statement.
The code stipulates it is symbolic rather than binding, and is meant to remind students to conduct themselves in a way that reflects the University’s ideals and values.
“Since the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities is a lengthy document, this short honor pledge would be more tangible to students to familiarize themselves with or even memorize,” the code states.
Pearlman said the code is meant to help students rather than make them susceptible to punishment by the administration.
“When you guys go out and are making decisions, no one’s asking you to memorize this document,” he said.
This amendment proposes that students be educated on the statement during orientation. Pearlman said doing so during orientation would allow the University to reach students when they are most receptive to new information.
Frequency of cycle
Though in recent years the statement has been amended every three years, specific cycle length is not currently included in the statement. This amendment would cement the three-year amendment cycle.
This proposal basically ensures that students are held to the version of the code that was in place when they committed a violation.
This amendment addresses the University president’s role and obligations with the Statement.
Currently, Pearlman said the University president reserves the right to alter the Statement at any point in time. However, University President Emerita Mary Sue Coleman always decided which amendments would be chosen before the end of Winter semester, while students were still on campus. The amendment proposes that Coleman’s precedent of approving amendments at a specified time become a requirement.
Charlton also spoke about the progress CSG has made with the Faculty Senate’s decision regarding the release of course evaluations for student consideration. Last Monday, the body voted to support a delay in releasing course evaluation data to students.
“We’ve progressed actually quite positively,” Charlton said.
Charlton said the two ongoing conversations between the Faculty Senate and CSG regarding course evaluations are their release to students and the creation of a committee to re-evaluate the instrument of gathering course evaluations.
Charlton said CSG asking for the release of the data by Winter 2016 is still on the table.
“CSG still wants to see course evaluations be public,” Charlton said, “However that conversation has progressed into an ask of giving course evaluations to advisers with the contextualization they requested initially.”
Charlton said the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs is in support of at least releasing the course evaluation to advisors, so that they can talk to their students about it.
“Some people are calling this a compromise,” Charlton said, “I’m calling it common sense.”
A forum on the topic will be held Nov. 16 in CSG chambers at the Michigan Union.
Mental health in syllabi
CSG voted on a resolution to add mental health services in syllabus language, which passed unanimously.
LSA junior Sierra Stone, one of the authors of the resolution, said, in addition to faculty members, Graduate Student Instructors will be trained about how to address mental health in their syllabi.