The Maryville College campus has been abuzz recently with rumors of drastic policy changes, such as decisions to install workout equipment that will hog the majority of the Alumni Gym and to outlaw all forms of tobacco on campus. However, many of these rumors exaggerate the policies being worked on, and no changes have officially happened yet.
Before students react to the rumors, it is important to understand the process by which policy changes are made. They begin with the Student Government Association (SGA), which is a group of elected student representatives. In order to update policies, SGA members write resolutions. Senators then vote for or against them, and resolutions are passed if the majority is in favor.
When SGA passes a resolution regarding campus policy, it moves on to the Student Life Committee (SLC). SLC is a smaller group made up of staff members, faculty representatives and student representatives. If policy changes are approved by SLC, they are either signed by President Bogart or sent to the Board of Directors to be approved, depending on the scope.
This process has been designed to include faculty and student perspectives, and the numerous steps are meant to insure that no one group is given the power to approve policies alone. It is also important to note that SGA members are elected not just to give their personal opinions, but to represent the needs of their constituents.
While none of the policies being discussed have made it through the entire process yet, SGA has passed several resolutions that will be debated by SLC in the coming weeks. A possible curfew change for upperclassmen living in freshman residence halls and a future dead day schedule were among these.
“[The curfew change] was something that Senators Aley Goodlett and Eddie Small both wanted to try to push for, and really what that was trying to address was the fact that the majority of single rooms on campus are in the freshman halls,” said David Clifford, student body president. “[This would] secure a better environment for students that wanted a single but didn’t want the freshman rules.”
“Dead days” refer to a period between the last week of classes and final exam week in which nothing happens on campus and students are able to focus on their studies. Their purpose would be to create an environment in which students feel less overwhelmed at the end of the semester. Since dead days were not included in the 5-year academic calendar that was passed last year, it is difficult to add them now. However, SGA passed a resolution to add dead days to the next academic calendar.
“It got approved and is moving on, but it won’t get enacted to where any of us will see the change,” said Beau Branton, Pearsons Hall senator. “They approved the academic calendar for five years, so it will get enacted for the sixth year. Next year’s freshman will have the chance of having four dead days per semester in their senior year.”
SGA has also discussed several possible policy changes for which no resolutions have been written yet, including a smoke-free policy, a potential weight-lifting facility in the Alumni Gym and the establishment of a campus bar. Before going forward with any of these, SGA is looking to gather more information regarding student opinion. Many MC students took a survey regarding the smoke-free policy last week as a way for SGA to learn more.
“[The smoke-free policy has] been something that we have been grappling with pretty much the entire semester, and it’s just a very thorny issue because it really does affect students on a very personal level,” Clifford said. “There are students that have genuine nicotine addictions and employees and other members of our community who would be affected by such a change, so what we want to do is look strictly at the student aspect, the student side, and see if we want to recommend something.”
If the lifting facility in the Alumni Gym passes, workout equipment will be installed in a back room to provide an exercise space geared toward average students, not just athletes. It would not interfere with the space that is frequently used for events.
The campus bar is an idea that has been thrown around in SGA for several years. There is a concession stand space in the Clayton B building that could serve this function, and there has been talk of naming it “Vandy’s” after Vice President and Dean of Students Vandy Kemp.
“The idea springs from the fact that we’re a residential campus and we want to try to provide as good of an experience as we can for our students,” Clifford said.
Student opinion is a key part of the process, and policy changes are meant to reflect the needs of the student body. If students have questions or concerns about any of the policies SGA is discussing, they are encouraged to reach out to their senators and representatives.