By Shelby Leonard
The phrase “homosexual acts” will remain in the Sexual Misconduct Code after a Student Senate vote in executive session Thursday night.
Student Body President Wesley Hodges vetoed the Sexual Misconduct Code Non-Discrimination Act on Wednesday.
The act, which was originally passed during the Student Senate meeting last week, had proposed to remove the phrase “homosexual acts” and replace it with the phrase “non-marital consensual deviate sexual intercourse.”
In order to override the veto, a two-thirds vote by the Student Senate was necessary. According to two members present for the vote, the final count was 22-25.
Hodges has the authority to sign or veto any piece of legislation.
Hodges said he decided to veto the bill based on two arguments. First, Baylor has a right to determine what it does and does not value.
The second was the concern that due to the lack of preparation and extensive student studies, if this bill were to pass on to the Board of Regents Hodges did not expect it to be implemented.
“My veto was an action of love and care for the university and our students,” Hodges said. “I understand that human sexuality is a topic that is very important to our student body and I do not want to limit our conversations on this topic. I deeply respect our students and their respective views. I just want to make sure that whatever is represented in the student government is an accurate representation of the majority of students and seeks to further the mission to protect our students.”
The veto by the student body president was returned to Student Senate to be voted upon, in accordance with the Student Body Constitution.
The Student Senate vote followed an open forum debate with alternating pro and con speakers.
A major concern expressed by those in favor of the veto was that the proposal was unclear and unnecessary. An additional concern was that the media publicity would potentially continue to affect the reputation of the university in a negative way.
However, other students expressed disagreement with the motion to veto the proposal. Major points expressed by those opposed were that the proposal would create a more caring, loving Christian environment, and a veto would display inconsistency in the student government.
Student Senator Chase Hardy Jr., San Antonio sophomore, who was in favor of the veto, said, that the bill was unclear and unnecessary. In the past week Hardy noticed a majority of students found the rewording “non-marital consensual deviate sexual intercourse” to be confusing.
“Why would we attempt to change something that does not need to be fixed?” Hardy asked. “This is a private university that has every right to implement the prevention of something they think is wrong. Going against Baylor policy is an enormous act within itself. It should be used very sparingly.” Student Senator Connor Mighell, Dallas junior, said there have been signs that publicity from the media could negatively affect the university.
“Based on the flood of media perspectives in articles in the past week, that say this new language, amongst the current language of the policy, perpetuates the idea that Baylor University hates and ostracizes homosexuals,” Mighell said. “That is straightforwardly false. Our policy in fact directly calls for constructive forgiveness and compassion.”
Student Senator Kimani Mitchell, Schertz senior, said, in opposition to the veto, that the rewording of this policy matters to some students.“You may say it doesn’t matter, that the problems being addressed in the policy now aren’t real,” Mitchell said. “I believe that they are real to a great number of students, those students friends, those students teachers who support them in every way. I think that is something we need to take into account and we are advocates for those students as well.”
Student Senator Jailyn Parnell, Moreno Valley, Calif. junior, said by vetoing the bill the university would show inconsistency and may develop a negative image in the broader media both locally and nationally.
“It would look really bad on Baylor’s part to say ‘we are more accepting’ then come back and say ‘oh no we’re not,’” Parnell said. “We don’t want to be put out there like that, as if we are actually biased towards homosexual students.”
A necessary two-thirds was needed to override the veto. The final votes were cast during executive session. According to a members present for the vote, the final vote count was 22 in favor of upholding the veto issued by the Student Body President, and 25 in favor of overriding the veto. As a result of the vote, the question of modification will not be referred to university administrators or other board of regents for further investigation at this time.