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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Student Senate passes resolutions supporting faculty tenure, investigating Fish Camp structure

Texas A&Ms Student Government Association held an open forum on Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 5 p.m. to discuss the MGT Consulting report. 
Photo by Photo by Will Nye

Texas A&M’s Student Government Association held an open forum on Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 5 p.m. to discuss the MGT Consulting report. 

The Texas A&M Student Senate met on Wednesday, March 9, passing a resolution supporting faculty tenure and a bill authorizing the student body president to create a task force to investigate the situation surrounding Fish Camp’s change in status from student organization to university program.
Continuing a running theme of the 74th session, this meeting was marked by multiple calls for quorum, making sure at least half of the student senators were present. Several calls for quorum failed, and Senate Speaker Iman Ahmed, a public health senior, had to call for a recess to give time for senators to return.
The first piece of legislation brought before the Senate was the Faculty Tenure & Teaching Resolution, a bill designed to recognize the importance of tenure at A&M and other institutions, in light of recent comments made by Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. This bill would also task the Legislative Relations committee, chaired by computer science sophomore Jessica Williams, with lobbying “for the rights and protections of faculty as currently understood or practiced by institutions of higher education within Texas.”
This bill was opposed by Donald Russell, a technology management junior. Russell attacked the idea of tenure itself, saying tenure takes away incentives for professors to find better ways to teach students.
“When professors have been tied in the profession, in the education industry, they have not been working in [the industry that they teach],” Russell said. “They lose touch with what is going on.”
Russell also said tenure fails to hold professors accountable.
“If we’re going to service our constituents, if we’re going to support our students and do what is best for them, we have to make sure that professors are held just as accountable for their actions as we are held accountable by grades and the diploma,” Russell said.
Russell also said tenure is a system unique to the university structure that does not exist in any other field of work.
“Can you name me any other industry that has a guarantee no-fire or no-termination clause? There isn’t one,” Russell said. “Why do college professors have this? My wife is a seventh grade teacher. She has a contract for one year … there is no such thing as tenure in lower education.”
Emma Mosley, an agribusiness senior, also addressed issues brought up by Russell. Mosley said she had an issue with a tenured professor who told her, “It’s not my fault that you’re dyslexic,” when she came to talk to him about how to better study for exams.
Samuel Jefferis, a computer science senior, defended tenure and the bill as necessary to protect faculty.
“Tenure is not a blank check to do whatever you want as a professor,” Jefferis said. “There are still reviews, there are still restrictions … Tenure protects professors’ ability to teach what they want and research what they want to research.”
Per Student Senate rules, a bill can normally not be passed on its first read. However, due to the urgency of this bill, a motion was made to have it considered as emergency legislation and the bill was passed.
In open session, multiple other resolutions were brought forward. One of these, written by Williams, was the Stakeholder Prioritization Resolution. Coming after news concerning the administration’s ties with alumni groups and the lack of student involvement in university decisions, this resolution asks administration to rethink the voices they hear when making decisions.
“This piece is not about politics,” Williams said. “It’s about showing that student voices are at the forefront of this university.”
This piece was sent down to committee to be considered again at the next meeting.
Another piece considered during the open session was the Fish Camp Autonomy bill. This piece, written in part by Fawaz Syed, a computer engineering junior, asked Student Body President Natalie Parks, a communication senior, to establish a committee to look into and write a report concerning recent structural changes to Fish Camp and the impact administration had in these changes.
“After getting a lot of information in The Battalion articles and other sources regarding two things — student organization rights as well as Fish Camp’s status as a student organization or a university program — this bill is written to collect that information into a public report,” Syed said.
This piece was also considered as emergency legislation, and was passed. Per the timeline of this bill, the report will be presented at the April 10 meeting of the Student Senate.
After a failed motion by management senior Dylan Bohn to consider the Students Against Squirrels resolution during open session, the meeting came to an end with Speaker Ahmed’s remarks. Ahmed implored senators to show up to meetings and represent their constituents even if they disagree with legislation.
“I do want to let you all know that you have multiple channels in this meeting to express your perspective,” Ahmed said. “You have debate, you have voting, you have sending it to committee, you have tabling [the bill]. There are so many methods for all of you to utilize in this room, utilizing your position as student senators to express your voice and the voice of your constituents. What is not an acceptable way is not being present.”

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