Student senate passes bill to address racial incidences

Baylor Student Senate discusses a new bill condemning the acts of racism that have occurred on campus in recent months. The bill passed unanimously. Photo credit: Jessica Hubble

By Brooke Bentley | Reporter

At their weekly meeting on Thursday, several members of Baylor’s Student Senate presented a bill to address the recent racially charged incidents on campus.

The bill, which highlighted Student Senate’s disapproval of recent events as well as their efforts to combat hateful acts on campus, came following recent increases in reports of hate crimes on campus following the presidential election due to racial and political differences. The student senators who proposed the bill said they felt the need to acknowledge what has been happening as well as create conversation about change.

“Right now, there has been so much negativity in the air that I think it’s time for us to make sure that the students that we represent that know that that’s bad have their voices heard,” said Artesia, N.M., sophomore Nolan Chumbley, one of the bill’s drafters. “We’ve put the word ‘we’ in this bill a lot, and we did that intentionally because we want this to come from the Student Senate as a whole and not just the authors listed on this bill.”

The bill, which passed unanimously, is an effort by Student Senate to follow in the footsteps of Baylor administration as well as other student organizations that have spoken out against the recent incidents. The drafters also sought to emphasize the importance of practice as a key part of organizing change.

“It’s important to practice it. We can always speak to such things, and we can always idealize a situation, but it’s always that extra next step to actually practice it on a day-to-day basis,” said Benbrook junior Charles Mooney, a Student Senate member. “We need to be able to see people reach across boundaries that we just normally don’t feel comfortable with, because when we come to college we do come with our own set of ideals about the world.”

The authors also said they want to encourage students to attend events such as the “What’s Next?” series. Organized by the department of multicultural affairs, the “What Next?” series was started with goal of discussing issues surrounding diversity and inclusion. At the Tuesday meeting, Baylor Police Chief Brad Wigtil encouraged students to report incidents and utilize the BU Guardian app as well as the security escort program offered by the police department.

“The students are actually what I think is the heart of where the change occurs,” Mooney said. “The administration can push forward initiatives, they can push forward general ideas, but it’s up to the students to take it to heart and actually bring the change around.”

In addition to acting as a statement denouncing the recent events, the bill contained multiple sections that set a standard for Student Senate members to speak up or get involved if they see anything of this nature occurring on campus.

“I think we really want to acknowledge that this is happening to people, we are aware of it and we are trying to fix the issue,” said Thousand Oaks, Calif., senior Rocky Katch, an author of the bill. “I think a lot of people think that we’re just kind of turning a blind eye or that we’re ignoring it, but we’re not. It’s a huge issue, and it’s hard to tackle, so we are meeting a lot, but we are working on it, and we would love to hear ideas if anyone has any on how we can help make this campus more inclusive and more appreciative of the diversity we have.”