Associated Student Government senators passed a resolution that suggests UA officials change the university’s definition of discrimination, but the dean of students thinks the school’s discrimination policies are clear enough.
Senators passed the amended resolution with 43 votes for “yes,” two votes for “no” and one abstention.
Following criticism of his resolution last week, Sen. Daniel Webster, an author of the resolution, met with UA officials during the week in hopes of gaining support for the amended resolution.
“On Thursday, I met with the vice chancellor of student affairs, Dr. Charles Robinson, and Dean of Students Melissa Harwood-Rom, and they loved that students were pointing out errors in their administration,” Webster said. “They were excited to see us take initiative and try to fix a problem they didn’t realize was a problem.”
Harwood-Rom thinks the form is somewhat unclear with regard to reporting student-on-student discrimination but does not see any errors with the existing form, she said.
“I don't think it was an error,” Harwood-Rom said. “I think it was just pointed out that we can make it somewhat more friendly to students.”
Webster said Harwood-Rom told him department officials have already started working on adapting the existing form to report discrimination, but Harwood-Rom said the process is lengthy and the department on its own does not have the power to change the form.
“I think one of the things that students come to realize is that shared responsibility and campus governance means no administrator, with one stroke of the pen, can make changes,” Harwood-Rom said. “There is a process.”
The UofA already has policies in place to investigate and punish instances of discrimination on campus, Harwood-Rom said.
“Whenever it is reported, we immediately investigate, open a case, and if appropriate, charge students,” Harwood-Rom said. “Students need to be aware that that functionality is already there, has been used and will continue to be used.”
Webster addressed the complaints senators made last week about errors in the resolution, he said.
One criticism the resolution faced was its mention of hate crimes, which senators said they thought was irrelevant.
“We took out the stuff regarding hate crimes, because this is not about hate crimes,” Webster said. “It is about the definition of discrimination and reporting it.”
Co-author Mariam Siddiqui thinks it will be difficult to change the definition but is hopeful it will be changed in the future, she said.
“The process of getting the definition to change is a little longer than expected,” Siddiqui said.
In the meeting, senators also proposed a new resolution. Sen. Kianna Sarvestani and John Hedgecock, the ASG director of athletic relations, proposed a resolution that encourages the Razorback Athletics to offer student discounts on concessions during sporting events to increase attendance.
“This resolution came from some conversations about attendance and why our students leave games so quickly,” Sarvestani said.
The UofA does not offer any concessions promotions, Sarvestani said.
Some local schools use the university’s concession venues to fundraise, but Sarvestani thinks discounts will increase fundraising, she said.
“We have to look at cost analysis,” Sarvestani said, “but the argument is that if it is cheaper, you’re more likely to buy it, which would enhance sales even for fundraisers. Plus, these promotions would strictly be for students.”
Hedgecock thinks student attendance and leaving games early have been one of the athletic department’s biggest problems this year, he said.
“This is a good opportunity to say, ‘Hey, as students, we want more promotional opportunities at sporting events,’” Hedgecock said. “We made it vague on purpose just to bring it to their attention and see what they think we can do with it.”
Kevin Trainor, the associate athletics director of public relations, had not heard much about this resolution, he said.
“Touching base with [Hedgecock], ASG is definitely trying to engage with students more,” Trainor said. “But no one in the athletic department has ever said low attendance was a problem. It’s not.”
Senators will vote on this resolution in a meeting Jan. 16.
Once per semester, the ASG president reports on the state of affairs in the student body.
President J.P. Gairhan had only positive things to say when reflecting on the events ASG has organized and supported so far this year.
“The state of the students is strong,” Gairhan said.