Rules and Regulations Committee

Student Government President Kori Rady speaks about spring semester plans for SG at the SAC on Tuesday evening.

Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

Student Government voted unanimously to approve its new Code and Rules of Procedures at Tuesday’s SG meeting.

The code’s content, which the SG Rules and Regulations Committee has been reviewing since September, is a compiled version of SG’s formerly separate bylaws and procedures and serves as a detailed explanation of SG operations and rules. The code is used alongside a more general constitution that was updated last spring. 

The formatting of the code has been under review since summer, after controversy over the handling of interview notes for external and internal positions last spring. The controversy led to a decision by the Office of the Vice President for Legal Affairs that releasing interview notes violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The release of interview notes was not discussed at Tuesday’s meeting. 

At an SG meeting Nov. 12, SG agency leaders spoke out against an agency review process that was added to the document, saying they were not aware of the addition and asked that the code not be passed until they voiced their concerns and suggestions.

“It’s good to reevaluate what agencies do and make sure they are still relevant in serving students, but I personally had an issue with the makeup of that committee,” said Amber Magee, Diversity and Inclusion agency director.

Rules and Regulation committee members said agency members were given opportunities to add input on the code, and the students went into debate. The code failed to pass and was subsequently sent back to the committee for further review and agency input. 

Before Tuesday’s meeting, SG representatives and agency representatives have been meeting with the Rules and Regulations committee to address such changes to the document. 

“We asked everyone to send in amendments, comments, etc., and our committee took input for every single one,” said Melysa Barth, Rules and Regulations committee chair. “We met, I want to say, five or six times from the last time we were up here, so we did spend a lot of time not only hearing everyone come to our meetings and talk to us, but, also, we went through them and the code making sure it was up to snuff.”

According to the code, the review process required agency members to be assessed on performance by “Student Body President, Student Body Vice President, Speaker of the Assembly, Two Representatives from the Assembly chosen by the Speaker, the Agency’s Policy Director, and the ex-officio member being the Deputy to the Dean of Students” every other year. 

The new version also clarifies that agency directors can amend the information in the document about their specific agency.

“There is a very nice amendment process in [the new code],” Magee said. “You can just submit it through the policy director and the chief of staff, so I feel like the Rules and Regulations committee was very gracious in giving us time with the whole assembly to work on it.”

Braydon Jones, SG speaker of the assembly, said the assembly board will meet during winter break to determine what next semester will look like under the new code. 

“These rules are going to take immediate effect,” Jones said. “So we are at these guidelines now, fortunately. They will be sent to the Office of the Dean of Students as well the Vice President of Student Affairs for final approval, but we’re going to be functioning under these now unless otherwise told.”

Members of Student Government met Wednesday to discuss the handling of interview notes for external and internal appointments. 

The meeting was called by the Rules and Regulations Committee to discuss specific ways of altering the appointment process for internal and external positions to increase the involvement of SG assembly members, while still following rules under the Office of the Dean of Students.

The discussion follows an August decision from the Office of Legal Affairs not to release interview notes for internal and external positions under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act — a federal law protecting certain student information. The SG Judicial Court previously ruled in May that the notes should be released.

At the meeting, Sergio Cavazos, College of Liberal Arts representative, said SG should meet with UT legal representatives to better understand FERPA.

“I think that getting anything from legal specifying what information is protected or isn’t protected is something that we need to do,” Cavazos said. “Especially with everything that has come up in the past couple of months concerning what happened in interviews — things people have said.”

Cameron Crane, College of Natural Sciences representatives, said he had done research on his own and was confused about how students releasing information of their own accord would be considered a violation of the federal law.

“In my opinion, UT legal is just being cautious because they want to keep the University from a potential lawsuit, so they’re just going to say most things are FERPA related to prevent a potential lawsuit against the University,” Crane said.

Melysa Barth, Rules and Regulations Committee chair, said the committee discussed the possibility of creating a waiver for all applicants of internal and external positions that would allow the information to be reviewed by SG assembly members.

“The point of the checks that we wanted to have in there was that you understand by applying that your application is going to be released to these entities,” Barth said.

Another proposed solution from the committee was the inclusion of assembly members during the interview process.

“We were elected by students on this campus to vet the candidates that are being put up for appointment,” Cavazos said. “I think that, at that point, if we can’t get a hold of the notes or understand their credentials, then I think there should be an inclusion of assembly members in the interview or the assembly itself running the interview.”

SG Vice President Taylor Strickland said, while some limitations may need to be set, including assembly members in the interview process would help individuals not affiliated with SG to have more confidence in SG appointment decisions. 

Barth said the Rules and Regulations Committee will wait to propose a bill for the changes until the entire governing document has been reviewed for rule changes.