Senate focuses on academics

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As the official voice of students in academic affairs, the Senate of College Councils has been working hard this year to enhance the academic sphere of UT in various ways.

We kicked off the year with our annual Academic Expo, during which students learned more about Senate’s internal structure and our initiatives. Since then, our six committees have been working on university-wide events and legislation. Recently, our Academic Integrity Committee hosted IntegrityUT Week, a weeklong celebration of academic integrity and the new honor code that Senate helped to create. We hosted a series of Lunch and Learns with distinguished faculty and administrators, including President Powers. A thousand students received t-shirts with the new honor code to wear on test days to promote academic integrity. More than a thousand students also memorized the honor code and signed a huge honor code board to show their commitment. President Powers also signed it to support our students. During Senate’s last General Assembly, we passed legislation to include the new honor code and a statement regarding Student Judicial Services’ procedures on syllabi.

We have many more academic themed weeks and initiatives coming up. The Faculty Affairs Committee is planning Faculty Appreciation Week 2015 and are soliciting applications for Professors and TAs of the Month. The Undergraduate Research Committee is currently seeking applicants for a $1000 undergraduate research grant and planning for Research Week 2015. The Recruitment and Retention Committee is preparing to host Ready Set Go, a college readiness program for high school students. They are also leading our recently announced Transfer Student Ad-Hoc Committee, which will include a working group and focus groups for transfer student issues. We passed legislation and are hoping to create a Transfer Student Experience Program within the First Year Experience Office in order to promote resources and four-year graduation rates for transfer students.

In November, the Academic Enrichment Committee will be hosting Academic Enrichment Week, which will include events about internships, study abroad, research, and academic service learning. On November 19, the Academic Policy Committee with the Undergraduate Studies Council will host our first Student Series Campus Conversation on Technology in Higher Education from 5-7pm in the Gregory Gym Games Room. We invite every student to attend and participate. We hope students will share their opinions concerning these university-wide issues. We hope to create new legislation based on these conversations and report recommendations to UT’s future president.

Our coordinators are working hard this year to support the mission of Senate from managing our media and outreach efforts to implementing legislation previously passed in our assembly concerning faculty exit surveys, an online handbook, and supporting student ownership of intellectual property among other pieces.

In addition to our internal work and efforts to support our 20 college councils, Senate is a part of Invest in Texas, a student lobbying campaign at the Texas Legislature with the GSA and SG. Our Invest in Texas Co-Director is planning for our Invest in Texas Day at the Capitol and will be reaching out to our student body to identify student priorities. We plan to also engage other UT System Schools during this process.

At the beginning of the year, we welcomed 50 new At-Large members into Senate. They are pursuing their own individual initiatives which include expanding the FRI model to other colleges, creating an IntegrityUT Campaign, tackling registration issues, creating a medical excuse policy, streamlining the pre-law program and more!

 We encourage all students to connect with us through our website, utsenate.org, or through social media by following us on Facebook and @utscc on Twitter. Our General Assemblies are every other Thursday at 7pm in the SAC Legislative Assembly Room with our next one on November 13th. Our meetings are open to any student and we would love to hear about your ideas for legislation or events.

We look forward to serving the student body through various events, initiatives, and legislation pieces. We are launching some big surprises in the coming months, so stay tuned! In Senate, what starts here changes the university.

Jerath is the president of the Senate of College Councils. She is an international relations and global studies senior from Friendswood.