Drawing the line: SGA proposes bills for campus safety and parking, exposes underlying problems

The Student Government Association tabled two bills and two Sense of the Senate that were proposed at Tuesday night’s meeting. They will be reviewed at next week’s meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 6 p.m.

The first piece of legislation was Senate Resolution F09-01 written by Secretary A. Rene’ Mckelvey and University Affairs Chief Mariel Kanene. It was sponsored by President Ryan Bridges. F09-01 pertains to the crime on campus. It states that even though SHSU is ranked among the top 10 safest institutes in the United States, that it could always be safer. Mckelvey and Kanene propose that the Dean of Students and the University Police re-evaluate all current rules in place to ensure safety and that communication is increased between SHSU and Huntsville. It also proposes that if a student, full or part time, is involved in criminal activity in Huntsville that it be reported to the University Police Department and the Dean of Students. The final resolution is that when a student is involved in three incidents with legal authorities, regardless of how serious, that their enrollment is re-evaluated by the Dean of Services.

At the meeting there was debate about the bill and the resolutions proposed. One of the problems mentioned with the bill was in reference to the part about being re-evaluated after three incidents. Chief of Staff Kendall Scudder made the point that if this is in place “regardless of seriousness” then that would apply to something minor like three traffic violations. It was also mentioned by Senator Marcelo Pendleton that the “three strikes law” in California did not work and that this bill would pose as an ethical violation to the United States Constitution.

In response, Mckelvey said, “The bill does not say that after three strikes you’re out, it says that you will go in front of someone to re-evaluate whether you should be enrolled here. I am not trying to kick anyone out, but I want us to be safe.”

Mckelvey further mentioned that she was not telling the administration what they had to do, it was just a suggestion. The bill was inspired by the loss of Rachel Pendray, who passed away almost three years ago. Dean of Students John Yarabeck was at the meeting and mentioned that the tragedy of Rachel Pendray was the most difficult thing he has had to deal with as Dean of Students and that a lot of things have changed in the past three years.

“We now have a Student of Concern Team that meets every week and if there is someone in our student body of concern we get referrals from our faculty, staff, and students,” Yarabeck said.

He brought to attention that Huntsville and Sam Houston had different jurisdictions and that what happens downtown is different from what happens here. He encouraged senators to speak with University Police Department Chief Morris to clarify their arrangement with Huntsville Police. Yarabeck wanted to make sure that students were aware that they can make allegations against fellow students through the Student Code of Conduct in the Dean of Students Office, even if something happens off campus.

Mckelvey is urging students to come out and voice their opinions on this issue. The second bill proposed, F09-02 Scudder Goolsby Parking Act, was written by Chief of Staff Kendall Scudder and sponsored by Student Affairs Chief Sara Goolsby. This act “urges the administration to re-evaluate all current and proposed parking lots in order to administer the proper signage and markings to all ambiguous parking sports.” It then “demands that the Sam Houston State University vehicles follow the same parking procedures as students and faculty/staff with regards to parking in fire zones.”

The bill recommends that the administration inquire upon the construction of underground parking when designing the new campus buildings within the Master Plan and it recommends that a panel be created to include students, faculty, staff, administration, and representatives from the physical plant and the University Police Department.

Scudder said that parking is atrocious and it is bad that students who are paying for green and blue parking permits have to park in orange lots. He thinks that the number one issue is space and utilizing the space correctly.

“I call for no new parking lots, I called to identify ambiguous parking lots,” Scudder said.

He stated that a common problem of students getting tickets is that they do not know what is and is not a parking spot when dealing with situations of a parking line and a curb. He thinks that by identifying the ambiguous parking spots fewer students would get tickets and more parking spots would be available.

Mckelvey mentioned that legislature like this had been brought up in the past and wondered what made this one different. In response Scudder mentioned that the previous legislatures did not include the committee proposed or the Master Plan. He hopes that since it has been three years since legislature has been proposed that this will motivate the senators to take a stand.

Scudder was urging the senators when he said, “Others have let it die off, don’t let it die off, stand up for this legislation, stand up for the students that you represent.”

A few SGA members mentioned Scudder’s language being harsh. He replied to them saying that he did it on purpose because he really feels that the issue could be fixed with a “bucket of pain and preemptive planning.”

“The fact that it trailed off in the past shows that we need to be combative because there are thousands of students who have to deal with this every day, they are furious,” Scudder said.

Scudder’s message to the students is to, “Hold your senators responsible.”

At the meeting, two new senators were unanimously elected. Lori Brooks, a sophomore Mass Communications major, was elected to the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Kaylia Tucker, a sophomore Biology major, was elected to the College of Arts and Sciences.

The meeting was supposed to include two proposed Sense of the Senate, one in memoriam of Rachel Pendray and the other in memoriam for those lost at Fort Hood. Both Sense of the Senate will be mentioned at next week’s meeting.

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