| 03.19.2018

ASUI postpones GPA bill two weeks — Bill that would lower GPA requirement for ASUI leadership causes debate


Legislative action on a bill in the ASUI senate that would change the GPA requirement to hold an ASUI leadership position was put on hold at last week’s senate meeting — after many senators spoke in opposition of the bill.

Sen. Nathan Fisher motioned for the bill to be postponed for two weeks on Wednesday after ASUI Director of Diversity, Samantha Hansen, the author of the bill, requested it be delayed because of the opposition to the legislation.

“I know there were some people who were rather upset by it and there were some people who were begrudgingly in support of it,” Hansen said. “I think it will be an interesting process to look at the bill’s current language and amend it, but I still maintain that grades aren’t the whole person. I’d like to see the bill pass. We’re going to amend it and we’re going to relook at it.”

Hansen proposed the bill in an effort to make ASUI leadership positions more inclusive. The bill would change the GPA requirement of ASUI positions to be based on one’s academic standing in order to be eligible for leadership positions. Elections Coordinators Tanner Beymer and Pilar Alfaro were in support for postponing the bill — which would go immediately into effect once passed — so it would not hinder the upcoming election.

“We felt that would be unfair to this election cycle’s pool of candidates because we’ve been advertising that you have to have a GPA of 2.75 — if all of a sudden four days before the packets are due back and someone could have run but wouldn’t have known … that would be unfair,” Beymer said.

Hansen said the timing of the bill was an oversight on her part and she agreed on postponing the vote until after the senate candidates have been announced in early November.

“I did absolutely agree that it would be unfair to pass it after the senate candidates from this round already filled out their packets and applied for a position,” Hansen said. “It wouldn’t be fair to all of those people who thought they didn’t have the grades to run and didn’t get
that chance.”

Beymer said as a student, he opposes the bill because he thinks in its current language it puts academic success on the back burner of the university experience.

“I think that senators should be role models to the rest of the student body,” Beymer said. “I know the reason that all of us are here is to pursue an academic degree of some kind, and so if we lose sight of that we have to really reevaluate what our role is as ASUI.”

ASUI Director of Finance Hayley Lydig also spoke against the bill during the meeting.

She said the bill has the potential to distract students who are already struggling with their academics.

“I do not think that a student should be ineligible for leadership positions solely based on GPA but it is definitely a fact to consider in the hiring process,” Lydig said. “If a student is having trouble fulfilling academic requirements, to add more time commitments has the potential to distract from school work.”

Sen. Kelly James Fisher, co-sponsor of the bill said he and Hansen have a lot of work and research to do over the next two weeks to ensure the bill is ready for a vote on Nov. 6.

“We listened to the concerns of people who disagreed with the bill and they had a lot of valid points. So we’re going to talk with some of those people and find somewhere to meet in the middle and compromise,” Fisher said.

Revisions under consideration include lowering the GPA requirement rather than eliminating it. adding a clause that allows students who do not meet the GPA requirement to appeal and introducing an interview process to elections so there are more factors to consider in a
person’s eligibility.

Co-sponsor Vivian Gonzalez said the bill is about inclusivity and she believes there is a way to change the current requirements so everyone — students and senators alike — can get on board.

“Working closely with (Hansen), I’ve realized how exclusive ASUI can seem sometimes and it shouldn’t be like that,” Gonzalez said. “It should be inclusive and people should be represented by others who resemble them and their interests and by people who they can relate to.”

Amber Emery can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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