StuGov ‘Accessi-BILL-ity’ bill creates position to advocate for students’ accessibility needs on campus

Photo by Christina Cannady

By Camille Cox | Staff Writer

The Student Government Senate voted to approve the ‘Accessi-BILL-ity’ bill at its last meeting, adding a sixth member focused on student accessibility to the president’s cabinet.

Student Body President Gracie Kelliher and External Vice President Zach Tufenkjian authored the bill, which outlines the new position within the president’s cabinet. The president’s cabinet has an office of student government policy, and within that office, there are now six committees rather than five, Tufenkjian explained.

The five original committees are “affordability, diversity and inclusion, health, Title IX and student spirituality,” Tufenkjian said. “The legislation added a sixth office called accessibility, and the role, to my understanding, will entail pushing for policy issues and improvements on campus related to accessibility to help improve student life.”

Joely English, press secretary of the Office of the Student Body President, said in an email that Bill SE 69-01 added the director of accessibility position, which is “responsible for handling prevalent issues facing the student body.”

The Office of the Student Body President said it hopes this new position will “advocate for student issues that fall in line with accessibility services,” English said in the email.

Tufenkjian said they left the bill somewhat open to interpretation so that they do not limit the students who fall under accessibility.

“We kept it a little bit vague in writing the legislation because we want accessibility and the definition of it to not be constrained to the point where it can only work on one specific issue,” Tufenkjian said.

English said the director of accessibility will advocate for anything that falls in line with accessibility services, such as the OALA shuttle service.

The OALA shuttle dispute last year rose attention to Student Government that delegation was needed to this department,” English said. “With an institutionalized position, issues that fall under similar categories can now be spearheaded by this appointee.”

Along with OALA accessibility services, the director of accessibility will advocate for accessibility to translations and linguistics on campus, Tufenkjian said.

The position will focus on “how accessible different translations and linguistic access there is on campus with the different resources the university or Student Government put out,” according to Tufenkijan.

“Student Government is hopeful that this position could help increase language translation for student support services,” English said.

The ‘Accessi-BILL-ity’ legislation strides in line with Student Government’s mission of advocating for students’ needs.

“Looking long term, as the campus dynamics change here at Baylor, we want there to be a source of advocacy coming from the Student Government,” English said.