At Tuesday’s UGBC Student Assembly (SA) meeting, the proposed agenda was centered on bringing to the floor and carrying out two primary functions: approving legislature on proposed amendments to the UGBC constitution and the first reading of two bills. The first bill aimed to reform SA Standing Rules, and the other addressed handicap access and disability awareness on campus.
While the first reading of the Standing Rules Reform Bill and voting on constitutional revisions were conducted, the disability awareness bill was never read.
The first 45 minutes of the original meeting’s agenda-which was chaired by president pro-tempore and Executive Vice President-elect Chris Marchese, A&S ’15-consisted of general SA procedures, such as roll call, executive updates, reports of standing committees, and reports of ad-hoc committees, but it also included the nominations and selections of two new senators: Alyse Belavic, A&S ’16, and Cassidy Gallegos, A&S ’16.
After a 10-minute recess 45 minutes into the meeting, executive vice president Matt Alonsozana, A&S ’14, chaired the remainder of the meeting and, on behalf of the SA, invited Phoebe Fico, A&S ’15, to speak before the assembly to promote disability awareness and handicap access on campus.
Although Fico was originally scheduled to speak at the previous SA meeting, inclement weather conditions resulted in the speech’s cancellation.
Fico, who has cerebral palsy and wrote in a Letter to the Editor in The Heights about the lack of handicap accessibility on BC’s campus, was invited by SA to further advocate disability awareness and assist members of SA in promoting and creating enhanced disability services. Fico’s experiences with the University’s Disability Services Office prompted her to seek change, and they were meant to be met with action from UGBC with a SA resolution sponsored by Senator Dan Ibarrola, A&S ’15. Due to prolonged discussion on Standing Rules reform, however, the resolution was never read.
Ibarrola had been slated to read the resolution at the last SA meeting, but it was rescheduled due to harsh weather. The tabling of the disability awareness bill at Tuesday’s SA meeting marks the second time the bill has been postponed.
The resolution, as it reads, seeks “an increased need for disability-centered advocacy as expressed in Phoebe Fico’s Letter to the Editor in the February 13 issue of The Heights.”
The proposed bill resolves to do so per the following resolution:
“The Student Assembly hereby creates the Disability Awareness, Transparency, and Advocacy task force (herein referred to as DATA) which shall investigate and assess Boston College’s policies regarding students with disabilities. The committee shall also explore the possibility and necessary actions to create a disability focused representative board within the UGBC Division of Diversity and Inclusion.”
The reading of the disability task force resolution was scheduled to occur after discussion on the Standing Rules Reform Bill, but it was not achieved as a result of lengthy discourse on proposed ways of changing internal SA policies.
The bill, as prepared and read by senators Isaac Akers, A&S ’16, and Joseph Manning, A&S ’14, at the meeting, is comprised of a list of proposed internal changes to the functions and responsibilities of certain offices within SA, such as office vacancies, position appointments, meeting agendas, committee membership, and expulsion. (See table 1A.)
The suggested edits to the constitution, presented by Alonsozana on Feb. 4-just two semesters after the SA approved its new constitution-mainly consisted of grammatical and interpretive adjustments.
According to Marchese, however, the proposed amendments would make unclear the distinction between the Constitution-the guidelines and standards of conduct set for all of UGBC-and the Standing Rules-the guidelines that determine procedure in the SA.
“Aside from blurring the lines between the Constitution and Standing Rules, the revisions also include substantive changes, such as making the press secretary a vice president,” Marcese said in an email sent to senators after Alonsozana’s Feb. 4 presentation. “This was neither included in the original Constitution, nor was the idea vetted by the legislature.”
The current version of the Constitution will now include the edits after passing with all senators voting in favor of it and five abstaining.
Ibarolla is now scheduled to present the disability task force bill on March 10.