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SGA approves temporary changes to the Code of Academic Integrity

Daniel Heuer | Staff Photographer
Student Government Association Sen. Jonesy Strell (CCAS-U) speaks during Monday’s meeting.

Updated: March 4, 2024, at 3:28 p.m.

The Student Government Association Senate unanimously approved temporary changes to the Code of Academic Integrity on Monday, sending the changes to the Faculty Senate to vote on before ratification.

Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities Christy Anthony said she is requesting approval to temporarily reduce the size of academic integrity panels to help staff expedite case review process for academic integrity violations. The addendum comes after an SRR report showing reports of academic integrity violations rose 313 percent from fall 2021 to fall 2023, per the resolution.

“One of the things we’ve done is reached out to the departments where we were seeing the most significant increase, and offered some research and evidence based practices for decreasing academic integrity violations,” Anthony said.

The Faculty Senate will vote on the changes Friday.

SGA Sen. Jonesy Strell (CCAS-U), who chairs the senate’s Community Advocacy and Inclusion Committee, called on the SGA and University officials at the meeting to release a statement “as soon as possible” condemning the comments made by Gov. Spencer Cox (R-Utah) at a GW event last week where he called gender-affirming surgeries “genital mutilation.” Cox’s comment received pushback from the student body, including through a statement from the Trans and Nonbinary Students of GW that called on the administration to better prioritize the safety of transgender students, faculty and staff.

“It’s critical that we recognize and condemn transphobia in all shapes and forms,” Strell said.

Strell also asked the University to help Muslim students cover the high costs of catering large religious events, like fasting during Ramadan, because the SGA and University-Wide Programs Fund don’t have enough money to support students alone.

“If the University is able to buy millions in real estate, they can surely provide a few thousand dollars to the Muslim Student Association to cover religious and cultural events on campus,” Strell said.

SGA senators also unanimously passed the Student Empowerment Referendum Act, which will add a question to this year’s SGA ballot that asks students if they want the Board of Trustees to include the SGA president and vice president as voting members on the Board. SGA Sen. Ethan Fitzgerald (CCAS-U), who sponsored the bill, said adding students to the board would give the body an on-the-ground perspective and amplify student voices.

“A vote for this act is a vote to let students have their say,” Fitzgerald said. “ A vote against this legislation would be taking this choice away from students.”

The senate entered executive session to discuss the bill before its passing per SGA Sen. Anika Gupta’s (GWSB-U) request. The passage continues a push by the SGA to add voting students on the Board after trustees rejected an initial request to expand the Board in November.

Fitzgerald, who co-chairs the senate’s Mental Health Assembly, said the assembly has been working with Counseling and Psychological Services to purchase and join TimelyCare, a telehealth provider for universities and institutions that will offer students nine hours of free therapy per school year. He said the service will roll out on March 4 and will also provide support for cold and flu symptoms.

Prior to the roll out of TimelyCare, GW offered full-time students unlimited, free visits with AcademicLiveCare.

“This is a major win for students and I’m incredibly proud to see this enhanced support for student mental health,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald also said the Mental Health Assembly, which was launched in September and includes 12 members who make recommendations to officials and staff for possible campus mental health improvements, is working with the Student Health Center to plan a “big mental health day” which will take place before finals and will feature many resources, including a potential petting zoo.

“We are working closely with the Student Health Center to ensure there is a student-administration partnership to effectively put this event on and to ensure as many student administration resources are on site on the big mental health day,” Fitzgerald said.

The senate also unanimously passed the The Graduate Division Electoral Delegation Act, which will allow graduate school governing bodies, like the Student Bar Association, to request permission to facilitate elections for their senate seats on their own ballots rather than appearing on the annual SGA election ballot. SGA Sen. Simon Patmore-Zarcone (Law-G), who sponsored the bill, said SBA elections receive much higher voter turnout than SGA elections.

“Last year, I received the most votes for the law senator position with 34 votes. At the same time, the election for the most similar legislative position in the Student Bar Association had over 650 votes cast,” Patmore said.

Senators then unanimously approved the SBA FY24 Delegation Resolution, which adopted the SBA delegation petition and granted the SBA the right to facilitate their election of SGA senators. Patmore sponsored the bill and said the resolution will be referred to the Joint Election Commission for implementation.

The senate also reconfirmed Fatima Konte and Michael Ubis for executive commissioner and deputy executive commissioner of the JEC, respectively. The SGA reformed the commission following last year’s ballot referendum eliminating the JEC. Konte and Ubis were confirmed in July before the senate realized the JEC had expired, nullifying their confirmation.

Senators also unanimously approved the GW Career Exploration Expo Future Longevity Act to guarantee SGA funding for the GW Career Expo for future years, as well as allowing the expo’s former executive director to nominate the upcoming year’s director. SGA Vice President Demetrius Apostolis, who sponsored the legislation, nominated himself and was confirmed for the position for the coming year. 

Senators passed the Line Item Efficiency Act, sponsored by Sen. Ethan Lynne (CCAS-U), which will work to improve efficiency of student organization spending by allowing the Legislative Budget Office to create new line items for student organizations without needing full approval from the Finance Committee.

Senators also unanimously approved Oscar Gladysz to serve as Assistant Legal Counsel.

The next SGA Senate meeting will be held on March 19 at 8 p.m. in the University Student Center Grand Ballroom.

Fiona Bork, Hannah Marr, Rachel Moon, Rory Quealy and Fiona Riley contributed reporting.

This post has been updated to reflect the following:

The Hatchet incorrectly reported that officials will drop the panel requirement for low-level sanctions. Officials previously considered this measure but opted to only reduce the number of panelists. We regret this error.

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