SGA held its second senate meeting of the semester on Wednesday, March 1 in Harvey Hall. Some of the highlights from the meeting include a special address from Union president Dr. Dub Oliver and the passage of two pieces of legislation.
Senate chaplain Grant Allen began the meeting by explaining that he wanted to do something different and inviting everyone to stand and repeat a verse from Galatians 6. He then encouraged and challenged everyone to “continue to do a good work” and opened the meeting in prayer.
Cody Curtis, assistant residence director for the men’s quads, then spoke about the upcoming Reformation 500 Conference being hosted by Union, a celebration commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. A “scripture reading marathon” from Genesis to Revelation will be held at the clock tower from 6:30 a.m. to midnight on March 6 and 7 and March 13 and 14. About 50 more volunteers are needed March 13 and 14, with available slots from 7 p.m. to midnight.
Dr. Dub Oliver addressed Senate, giving several university updates and answering several questions during a special Q&A time.
Dr. Oliver said that one important task that he is working on is Union’s reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), a regional accreditor that grants general accreditation to Union. There are about 45 discipline-specific accreditations at Union, but Union must maintain general accreditation in order for students to be participants in federal financial aid. Union must be accredited every ten years.
SACSCOC evaluates the quality of a student’s experience at Union and the school’s mission and integrity. The Compliance Certification Report and the Quality Enhancement Plan are two measures. Union began working on the accreditation process in fall 2015 and submitted its Compliance Certification Report in Sept. 2016. An off-site review of the report was conducted Nov. 8-10 of last year, and a focused report responding to several issues with the original report was submitted Feb. 7 of this year. An on-site review team is scheduled to come March 21-23. Union will have until June to respond to the review team’s report, and SACSCOC’s Board of Trustees will make its final accreditation decision on Dec. 2.
The Quality Enhancement Plan for Union is the new Writing Enhancement program, designed to grow foundational writing skills and enhance writing skills across the disciplines. Union’s new writing center will open in fall 2017.
Dr. Oliver also discussed new student recruitment and gave some statistics about the numbers of student inquiries, applications, acceptances and active deposits compared to last year. Currently, 3,245 students attend Union. Inquiries (any action indicating interest in the university) are up 6.4% from last year. The number of applications are up 32.3%, and the acceptance rate is up 27.2%.
Dr. Oliver also discussed academic reorganization. The College of Education and Human Studies is currently divided into the College of Education, School of Social Work and the Department of Continuing Studies. Dr. Oliver said that these will soon expand into independent academic units. This will not change degree plans, but will give these areas a greater focus. The School of Pharmacy is also being changed to the College of Pharmacy, and the McAfee School of Business Administration will drop “Administration” from its name.
Dr. Oliver also gave a leadership lesson from Exodus 7 and challenged those in attendance to “look up and remember that God is with you.”
During the Q&A time, Dr. Oliver encouraged students to remain intentional about community, addressed upcoming collaborations with Lane College, talked about his goals, said that relationships was his favorite part of serving as Union’s president and addressed the current plans for the aquatic center, which closed last month.
Following Dr. Oliver’s address, the art therapy club was affirmed as a new senate organization. Students Sydney Rolfe and Aubrey Kurt introduced the organization to the senate.
SGA ambassador Amy McKelvey gave an update on legislation that passed in the last meeting. The chapel worship team schedule will now be included on the weekly chapel schedule email sent out by Todd Brady. Maintenance is currently working on installing lights along the walkway between the BAC and PAC.
A resolution, titled Welcome Week Woes, requested that the freshman-only 11 p.m. curfew during the first week of class be limited only to nights of Welcome Week activities. While the reason for the curfew, which is to develop relationships with roommates and RA’s, was considered, an early curfew was said to make incoming freshman feel alienated from other students and like they were at “church camp.” The resolution passed.
A bill titled Catalyst Music Fest, requested that $200 be allocated to student members of the American Chemical Society to fund band fees for the Catalyst Music Fest, a charity concert benefiting the STAR center, a nonprofit organization that ministers to disabled people in the Jackson area. The bill passed.
$2,050 is left in the senate budget for the year.
SAC president Mary Byars encouraged suggestions and feedback be dropped off at the SAC office and reminded students to sign up for Be Our Guest.
Organization announcements closed the meeting. The Sociological Inquiry Society invited students to take part in U Talk, and Zeta Tau Alpha announced its annual kickball tournament Kicks for a Cause to raise money for breast cancer education and awareness. Poster Palooza and Cardinal Ball tickets were promoted, as well as a marathon hosted by the Exchange Club of Jackson. The EDGE program is looking for mentors.