The Daily Gamecock

Student senate recap: Williams-Brice commencement, mental health surveys recommended

Student senate members clap as student senator Morgianna McDevitt reads off how many students have gotten their flu shot this semester.
Student senate members clap as student senator Morgianna McDevitt reads off how many students have gotten their flu shot this semester.

The student senate passed a recommendation at its meeting Wednesday that commencement for Spring 2021 be held in Williams-Brice Stadium. 

The author of the recommendation and second-year journalism student Christian Phillips said holding the graduation at Williams-Brice Stadium would allow for adequate social distancing and allow students to attend in person.

“You go here for four years, five years, six years, however long you’re here, you spend thousands of dollars, and the culmination of all that is a virtual format?” Phillips said.

Phillips also noted the fact that the university allows in-person football games but not in-person graduation. 

“I do find it hypocritical of the university that they can allow 20,000 people to come from all over the state and country — plenty of A&M people were there this weekend — to come and sit in the stadium for a football game, why can’t we do that for graduation?” Phillips said.

Phillips said there could be multiple ceremonies to accommodate social distancing so as to not pack so many people into one area.

The student senate also passed legislation recommending professors conduct mental health surveys of their classes. 

The survey, which the legislation recommends be offered each semester, would illustrate how students are reacting to the transition to online learning, one of the recommendation’s co-authors, Morgan Spinner, said.  

“The survey is 100% confidential, so that students can answer truthfully, in the hopes that we can address a bigger issue to the courses, rather than just straight teaching academic material,” Spinner, a second-year political science student, said.

The student senate will tailor the survey before it is sent to professors. 

A debate surrounding a recommendation that called for the university to freeze its investments in the fossil fuel industry also took place. 

Third-year geography and global studies student Claire Windsor, one of the recommendation’s co-authors, spoke at length about the “overwhelmingly clear” financial benefits of freezing fossil fuel investments. 

“[Fossil fuel] stocks and these companies are continually underperforming,” Windsor said. “The largest kind of financial advisors and investment companies right now are saying divest, they're saying look towards renewables or more sustainable funds.” 

Divesting means to freeze or cease investments in companies for ethical or financial reasons. This divestment legislation is part of a year-long effort by Windsor and on-campus environmental groups to decouple the university from its fossil fuel holdings. 

First-year business and finance student Dylan Peddemors said divestment was overly focused on the short term. 

“We don't know what's going to happen with these renewable energy source companies that we want to invest in. They might fail 50 years from now, and then we're out of all that money that we put into it,” Peddemors said. “We need to stick with that and not try to gamble the university's money.”  

Peddemors also said that divestment is not in the students’ best interest. 

“The financial status of the university directly correlates to the academic status of the university, and we all want our degrees to appreciate, not depreciate,” Peddemors said. 

Ultimately, the recommendation did pass. The legislation will be sent to those in charge of the university’s investments. 

Editor's Note: Christian Phillips is a reporter for the Daily Gamecock.


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