According to the current ASUI Rules and Regulations, a student who wishes to run for an elected position must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.75 or greater, or a previous semester GPA of 3.0 or greater. ASUI Director of Diversity Samantha Hansen said she is trying to ensure inclusivity in ASUI leadership positions by introducing a bill to the ASUI Senate Wednesday. The bill would change the grade requirement from being based on a students GPA to being determined by their academic standing within their respective departments.
“I authored this bill to change the grade requirement, to better reflect a holistic view of students and their experience at the University of Idaho,” Hansen said. “To make leadership positions accessible to all students en route to receiving degrees.”
Senator Kelly Fisher is a sponsor of the bill and said the passage of it would open the door to students who have great leadership potential but are solely focused on their academics and grades.
“We feel that there are a lot of people in our school who have the potential to be great leaders but don’t necessarily reach the GPA cutoff that the present regulations require,” Fisher said. “We feel like if you are able to graduate with your GPA, you should be able to hold leadership positions if people will trust and vote for you.”
Hansen said since ASUI has been receiving a relatively low amount of applications from qualified candidates, her bill might be the solution to getting more students involved.
“If you are struggling academically, getting involved might actually be just the thing,” Hansen said. “I think it reflects a way of thinking about people as a whole instead of as a sheet of paper, and I value that as a tenant of everyday inclusivity.”
The bill’s statement of intent highlights circumstances that may currently deter students from holding a leadership role. The bill seeks to include students who are not traditionally overachieving in the classroom, have mental health issues or learning disabilities, transfer students with difficult backgrounds and students who want to get involved but simply can’t meet the grade requirement.
ASUI President Max Cowan said he understands both sides of the argument of the GPA requirement for ASUI elected officials.
“There’s one camp that believes being a student comes first, so if you are a struggling student you can be focusing on your studies and not necessarily on extracurricular activities,” Cowan said. “But there’s also another camp that says it’s arbitrary to simply set a number and hold all students to that because not all programs are the same and students are unique.”
Cowan said while he wants anyone who is interested in a leadership position to apply, the choice of keeping the current GPA requirement is ultimately up to the senate.
The bill has been moved to the Rules and Regulations Committee and is expected to go to a vote in the next senate meeting at 7 p.m. next Wednesday, in the Clearwater room in the Idaho Commons.
Amber Emery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org