By Daniel C. Houston
Members of the Student Senate discussed a proposal that would be the largest overhaul of its internal operations in years at its Thursday meeting, also passing a resolution in support of adding a male representative to the homecoming court.
The bylaws revisions would call for fewer committees with more responsibilities each, including responsibilities that currently rest with the full Senate, like approving appointments to student body officer cabinets and making statements of support for people or organizations.
Michael Lyssy, Falls City senior and internal vice president, said the reforms are intended to streamline operations by allowing committees to take care of business that would normally take time out of general meetings.
“[This is] basically a big restructuring, to make Senate … more efficient so that we can handle more student issues and not get bogged down with a few, but can adequately debate them by empowering committees and putting more members into the committees,” Lyssy said. “The committees would then better represent the whole of Senate and … effectively represent the whole body on some non-controversial issues such as support resolutions or confirmations.”
Some senators expressed concerns about the idea of delegating so much authority to the committees, including Dallas freshman senator Connor Mighell. Mighell said he was particularly concerned with how much time could be taken appealing a committee’s decision to the general body.
“These [revisions] are important,” Mighell said. “This is the governing document for our body, and we need to make sure that it’s a governing document that works, that doesn’t promote bureaucracy [or] tension, [and] is something that gets things done. But at the same time, there is a point at which you can streamline things too much. There is a point at which friction is good when it comes to measures or bills or appointments on the floor.”
Senate also voted to recommend the Baylor Chamber of Commerce and university administration allow students to vote for a homecoming king to serve on the homecoming court, a move that, if made, would alter Baylor’s long-standing tradition of only selecting a queen and her court.
Although the proposal was serious, debate took on a humorous tone when two speakers in favor of the bill, including Atlanta senior Alex Gray and Katy senior Shaun Wysong, facetiously attacked Baylor’s lack of a homecoming king as an example of sexism, prompting laughter from the other senators.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Gray said with an air of faux indignation, “for far too long, a travesty has occurred at this great university: sexism is a real thing. I will not stand quietly in front of my peers and representing my constituents while this goes on. It was over 60 years ago that we took care of this problem in America, and yet it has come back. Now, men may have the right to vote, but we do not have the right to be king.”
Several senators, however, objected to the measure. Cody Orr, junior senator from Sugar Land, warned the body against changing Baylor traditions based solely on joking comments.
“In this instance, I’m not offended, it doesn’t hurt me and I would rather see Baylor’s tradition remain the same way that it is,” Orr said. “It’s not doing harm to anyone else. If this was something that was actually doing harm to someone else, then I would say, yes, we should change it. It’s not that.”
In the end, the homecoming king proposal passed 25 to 10 with four senators not voting.
In other business, Senate also recommended Baylor faculty not use participation criteria in grading that hurt a student’s score regardless of whether the student missed class for a university event or sickness.
The bylaws revisions will be considered April 12 at Senate’s final meeting of the semester.