View Bill 16-17-15

Senate Bill 16-17-15

Bill ID: 16-17-15
Name: Review of the Senate Student Affairs Committee Specifications
Proposed: 09/29/2016
Sponsor: Adam Berger, Chair, Senate Student Affairs Committee
Proposal: The Senate bylaws do not currently reflect the full scope of what the Senate Student Affairs Committee (SAC) does. The current Senate Bylaws specify the committee's charge as: "formulate and continually review policies regarding all non-academic matters of student life including, but not limited to, student organizations, resident life, extracurricular activities, and student concerns in the campus community." In addition to this charge, the SAC has been doing quite a bit of work the past few years in advising other committees on policies that affect the lives of students. Although this is not codified in the Senate bylaws, this is something that has become the norm.

The SAC is unique in that it is the only committee where a majority of its members are students rather than faculty/staff/ex-officio, as is true with the other Senate committees. Other committees may only have one or two students that can give input on policies, even when the policies directly impact the lives of students. By consulting with the SAC, committees can and have bypassed this limitation in their representation when considering certain policies. For example, last year, the SAC advised on the Student Grievance Procedures and the Policy on Excused Absence. While both of these policies were more academically focused and charged to other committees, the input provided by the SAC was critical in shaping the revised policies. At an institution of higher education such as the University of Maryland, the academic and non-academic aspects of student life are often interwoven, and this close relationship has made the SAC a valuable partner in the Senate's efforts to improve the student experience at Maryland.

Secondly, the Student Affairs Committee has historically had difficulties achieving a quorum at its meetings. Currently, the Senate Bylaws establish quorum as 11 voting members. Last year alone, only one of the SAC meetings had a quorum of its members. Based on conversations with the Director of the Senate and Senior Coordinator, it seems that this has been an issue for many years and no good solution has been found to date.

The Senate should revise the SAC's current charge to codify what has historically been one of the committee's most valuable roles: advising other committees on policies that directly affect student life, whether academic or non-academic.

The Senate should also reconsider the committee's quorum requirements, given that achieving quorum has been a perennial problem for the SAC.


Status: Completed
Completed On: 03/24/2017


Presidential Approval: 03/24/2017
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Reviewed By: Senate
Received: 03/01/2017
Decision Date: 03/08/2017
Decision: The Senate voted to approve the proposal.
Actions: The Senate reviewed the proposal at its March 8, 2017, meeting and voted to approve the committee's recommendations.
Next Step: Presidential Approval
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Reviewed By: Senate Executive Committee (SEC)
Received: 02/13/2017
Decision Date: 02/20/2017
Decision: The SEC voted to place the item on the March 8, 2017 Senate meeting agenda for consideration.
Actions: The SEC reviewed the proposal at its February 20, 2017, meeting and voted to forward the recommendations to the Senate for review.
Next Step: Senate Review
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Reviewed By: Elections, Representation, & Governance (ERG) Committee
Received: 10/20/2016
Decision Date: 02/08/2017
Decision Due By: 02/10/2017
Decision: The committee voted to forward its recommendations to the SEC for review.
Actions: During the Fall 2016 semester, the ERG Committee consulted with the proposer and reviewed the work of the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) since 2011, nearly all of which has involved gathering input on student views and experiences. Of the ten tasks it has worked on, only half have been charged to the SAC itself. The five charges assigned to other committees involve a range of issues affecting both academic and non-academic aspects of the student experience. Given much of the SAC's work involves collaborations not currently described in the Bylaws, the ERG Committee voted to recommend adding an additional item to the SAC's charge.

The ERG Committee also reviewed attendance at SAC meetings since 2011. It learned that attaining quorum has only been a significant issue since the start of the 2015-2016 academic year. Of the various constituencies, undergraduate student committee members have had the lowest average attendance. However, the
ERG Committee noted wide variations in attendance across the various constituencies over the relevant time period, suggesting that attendance may be largely dependent on the schedules and commitment of the particular individuals serving in a given year.

After consulting with the Director of the Senate, the committee reviewed previous Senate actions on committee size and quorum levels, the most recent of which (in 2015) significantly reduced the size of the SAC. While the ERG Committee considered
recommending a further reduction in the SAC's membership, it decided against it, noting that there is insufficient attendance data to adequately assess the impact of the 2015 changes. The ERG Committee did, however, vote to recommend the SAC's quorum be reduced from eleven to ten, which would bring the percentage of
the committee required for quorum closer to its pre-2015 level.

The ERG Committee voted to recommend amendments to Article 6.10 of the Bylaws by an email vote concluding on February 8, 2017.
Next Step: SEC Review
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Reviewed By: Senate Executive Committee (SEC)
Received: 10/12/2016
Decision Date: 10/19/2016
Decision: The SEC voted to charge the ERG Committee with review of the proposal.
Actions: The SEC discussed the proposal and voted to charge the Elections, Representation, & Governance (ERG) Committee with its review because the proposal relates to changing the Senate Bylaws.
Next Step: ERG Committee Review
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