The Daily Gamecock

Student senate passes 4 pieces of legislation, refers 11 others to committees

USC's student senate passed four pieces of legislation and referred 11 others to various committees at its weekly meeting on Wednesday.

The four pieces of legislation passed were a resolution recognizing the collaborative efforts and contributions of the University of South Carolina's police department, a recommendation to incorporate the Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention & Prevention (SAVIP) hotline contact information on the back of all future CarolinaCards, a proposal to enhance the accessibility of HPV vaccinations and Papanicolaou (Pap) tests on campus and a bill to specify the notice and enforcement of the absence policy for student senate.

The first piece of legislation, SBL11568, was a resolution to honor USCPD for its partnership with Student Government and contributions to the student body. The police department became the first group outside of Student Government to receive a Departmental Collaboration Award.

The award was created to recognize an office or department's contribution to the student experience and their partnership with Student Government on key initiatives throughout the year. Members from the police force were presented with the resolution at Wednesday's meeting.

Senator Sreshta Ravi, who spoke on behalf of the bill, said the police department has collaborated with Student Government on many initiatives. It contributed to funding the Uber game day discount for up to 900 students during the Carolina vs. Clemson game, offered another Uber discount for "Hoops Week," participated in a Safety Walk, played a role in keeping the Thomas Cooper Library open for 24 hours during finals by providing security for students and co-sponsored the "Pizza with Poppy" event. 

"They've just been really collaborative with us this year, so that's why we decided to present the first Departmental Collaboration Award," Ravi said.

The legislation passed by acclamation.

Another piece of legislation, SBL11565, was a recommendation to add the SAVIP number to the back of all future CarolinaCards.

Senator Aidan Gruner, who introduced the bill, said SAVIP is "a sexual assault resource that is available on our campus." He said this resource stands out as more than just a hotline. It also assists students academically, advocates for changes in classrooms and housing, offers counseling and develops safety plans for potential situations, he said.

"Sexual assault is such a prominent issue on (USC's) campus," Gruner said. "That's why this is such an important issue, because it affects so many people, and it's often not talked about. And that's why we need to bring these resources to people, make it easier for them to be able to communicate and to be able to find someone who can advocate and talk with them."

The legislation passed by unanimous consent.

Another piece of legislation, SBL11566, was a recommendation to improve student knowledge of the HPV vaccination and Pap test on campus.

Senator Karthik Rangavajhula, who introduced the bill, said the two intervention procedures could potentially save lives and are relevant to college-aged students. He said the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is important in combatting HPV, a virus that can lead to various health issues, including cancer. He said around 90% of college students are expected to encounter it. Additionally, the Pap test, recommended from age 21 onwards, plays a crucial role in detecting reproductive cancer, according to the bill.

Though the HPV vaccination and the Pap test are available at the Center for Health and Well-Being, many students are unaware of this and do not understand their importance, according to the bill.  

"If you're from out of town, and you're here for most of the time, you can't go back to your provider at home," Rangavajhula said. "Knowing about the service at the student health center can be helpful in getting that scheduled on time."

The legislation passed by acclamation.

The final piece of passed legislation, SBL11567, was a bill to specify the notice and enforcement of the absence policy within student senate.

According to the current absence policy, if a senator accumulates more than three unexcused absences, the student senate will vote on their removal in the session following the fourth absence, requiring a two-thirds majority. Any appeal to the removal must be submitted to the Constitutional Council within three university days, and the speaker pro tempore — with potential assistance from the attorney general — will represent Student Government in case of an appeal.

Senator Camden Kaye, who spoke on the bill, said if someone exceeds the absence violation, comes back into compliance and then exceeds the absence policy again, they will have to get called back up to the stand to be potentially voted out.

"We thought it very prudent to establish a real procedure for it rather than just rely on precedent, mostly because we don't want somebody to have to come look at our codes and have no idea what to actually do," Kaye said.

The legislation passed by acclamation.

The referred pieces of legislation cover a range of recommendations and bills. They include proposals to enhance the immunization penalty information on Self Service Carolina and the Gamecock Gateway Checklist, offer scholarships for transfer students, specify duties for the deputy secretary of sustainability, improve the University 101 course curriculum and facilitate access to purchasing recommendations in finance requests by student organizations. 

Additionally, the pieces of legislation aim to promote vegan and vegetarian options in on-campus catering, create concentration tracks in the biochemistry and molecular biology major, partner with Greek life to collect reusable items for the Gamecock CommUnity Shop, maintain an online repository for promotional material, establish an annual "Cancer Prevention Week" and increase the campus activity fee. 

Due to spring break, there won't be a senate meeting next week. The last session of the 115th senate is scheduled for March 13.