By Daniel C. Houston
The Student Senate failed to muster enough votes Thursday to override a student body president veto of a recently passed resolution supporting the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
Student Body President Zach Rogers, a senior from Houston, vetoed the resolution — which encouraged the Baylor administration to publicly support providing certain classes of illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship — saying his decision was influenced by the lack of student input gathered in the bill-writing process. Senate’s vote Thursday upheld the veto, coming two votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to overturn it.
Senate also voted to roughly double the portion of the fee each student pays toward the Student Government Allocation Fund, a pool of money Student Government distributes to student organizations to put on campus events and bring artists to campus. The student body will have the final say on whether to raise each contribution from $6.07 to $12 per student during Student Government’s Diadeloso elections April 18-19.
Although an informal straw vote during the meeting revealed only two or three senators actively opposed the DREAM Act itself, concerns about the authors’ decision not to survey students on immigration reform ultimately led 15 senators to support Rogers’ veto, including freshman senator Michael Blair from Scottsdale, Ariz.
“If I were in Congress right now, I would be voting for the DREAM Act; however, this veto is strictly about student opinion,” Blair said. “If we are going to expand the argument outside of that, we have to recognize that there are other reasons … that students might be opposed to Baylor lobbying for the DREAM Act. I personally do not want Baylor taking political positions.”
Shaun Wysong, senior senator from Katy, opposed the veto, arguing many students could be either misinformed about or indifferent toward the issue, and Senate should concern itself with protecting the minority of Baylor students who are illegal immigrants.
“I can bet you that a majority of students are against [the DREAM Act]; I mean, walk around campus for a while [and you’ll find] students are probably going to be against this,” Wysong said. “But … you must stand up for the minority just because it matters to them. I will take that any day, even if it was one person who was 100 percent for this, over the rest of the campus’s indifference.”
Atlanta senior senator Alex Gray, chair of the finance committee, introduced the proposal to double the SGAF, saying he hoped the additional money would provide student organizations the resources to lure higher-profile musical artists to campus for events like Christmas on 5th Street and Diadeloso.
The SGAF bill passed without any opposing statements in debate, surprising the lone dissenter, Waxahachie senior senator Daniel Cervera.
“I know not of any institution [of higher education] that has actually cut costs of attendance, as opposed to the option of increasing costs, when it comes to bringing entertainment or guest speakers to campus like this, especially when students shoulder the burdens of that cost,” Cervera told the Lariat after the bill’s consideration. “It would be refreshing to see more debate happen before increasing the SGAF by doubling it, essentially.”
Gray also sponsored another bill that was intended to narrow the jurisdiction of the Student Court based on what he described as a systemic tendency of the court to arrive at decisions that don’t favor students.
The bill failed by a vote of 8-21 with five abstentions.
Currently, the court had discretion over whether to hear certain cases based on the merit of the arguments involved.
The Student Court chief justice Christian Latham, Magnolia senior, attended the meeting and said the court serves as a resource for students to help other students solve disputes, and didn’t understand why Senate would want to take that resource away.
In other business, Senate passed a resolution supporting extending the hours of the Starbucks in Moody Memorial Library on Fridays and Saturdays, replacing classroom desks in the Sid Richardson building and exploring a new major program in Arabic. All of these proposals would have to be approved by Baylor administrators before implementation.