Senate passes LGBT, Texas Equalization Grant bills
Published: Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Student Senate passed two symbolic bills during its Tuesday afternoon meeting: a resolution to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and a resolution declaring the importance of the Texas Equalization Grant (TEG) to the SMU community.
The LGBT bill, authored by Sen. Harvey Luna (Dedman 1), states that "Student Senate, acting on behalf of the student body, officially extends their continued support to current and prospective SMU LGBT students."
The bill denounces discrimination against LGBT students and homophobic rhetoric. It also encourages senators to take Allies training in the Women's Center, but does not make the training mandatory.
During debate, some senators questioned the necessity of the LGBT bill. Sen. Jonathan Ishmael (Dedman I) said there were no hate crimes or suicides last year and pointed to SMU's Clery Act report.
"None of these issues have taken place on campus," he said, later elaborating that he didn't think that Senate needed to address this problem.
The 2009 Clery Act report lists one hate crime in 2009, described as a "simple assault" on SMU's main campus. There were no hate crimes in 2007 or 2008 on any of SMU's campuses.
Student Body President Jake Torres supported the bill. He responded to Ishmael's argument with one of his own: just because no one has drowned in the pool at Dedman Center doesn't mean that SMU shouldn't hire lifeguards.
Sen. Rachel Fox (Dedman II) and Alex Ehmke (Dedman II) also supported the LGBT bill, bringing up the argument that not all hate crimes get reported.
Some senators had issues with the wording of the bill. Chief of Staff Alex Mace, who supported the bill, first pointed out that the original wording made it seem like Student Senate didn't support LGBT students before the bill was written. He said that it was untrue and suggested that the wording should be changed to reflect this.
Senate later passed an amendment to reflect Mace's point.
Torres authored the second passed bill, which stated the importance of the TEG to students who are attending private colleges and universities in Texas and are in need of financial assistance
The Texas legislature is facing a major budget shortfall, meaning that many programs and services will see cuts in funding. Torres' bill states, "The student body of SMU respectfully requests that the only cuts to the TEG be those that are absolutely necessary."
The bill also requests that the legislature "make every effort to maintain its commitment to the TEG."
Torres authored the bill in the hopes that he can take it with him when he goes to lobby the legislature on the TEG issue. Torres, along with a group from SMU that includes Organizations Chair Bethany Mackingtee and Board of Trustees Student Affairs Committee Student Representative Laura Baez, traveled to Austin Tuesday evening.
SMU has 1,526 students who have received TEG funds totaling $6,324,641 for the 2010-2011 year.
Student Senate passed the bill unanimously and with little debate.