Student governments hold joint session

The Residence Halls Association organized the meeting.
Missouri Students Association Senator Phyllis Williams speaks about gender identity issues during a joint session of student governments Monday at the Reynolds Alumni Center as Residence Halls Association Parliamentarian Michael Crawford looks on. The four governments unanimously passed a resolution to support adding gender identity and expression to the UM system non-discrimination policy.

The four major student governments met Monday to unite on various issues that have been discussed throughout the semester.

The Graduate Professional Council, the Legion of Black Collegians, the Missouri Students Association and the Residence Halls Association attended a joint session of student governments Monday in the Reynolds Alumni Center.

The meeting, organized by RHA, was the third joint session the organizations have held. The first was organized by MSA in Fall 2007.

"The first joint session was held when communication between these different student governments was not very good and this is kind of a way to help that and get everyone in one room talking about the same things," MSA President Jordan Paul said. "It's also good for topics such as gender identity because we can pass a resolution that shows the issue has support from different kinds of students."

The resolution to include gender identity and expression in the UM system's non-discrimination policy was the only resolution that passed unanimously.

"Currently, students can be discriminated against because of their gender identity or expression under the UM System's policy," RHA Parliamentarian Michael Crawford said. "They can be failed from classes or fired from their jobs and I don't feel that's right."

RHA and MSA have passed legislation to include gender identity in their individual non-discrimination policies in the last month.

"I think it's really important that every student who enters our campus feels safe and can take advantage of the opportunities our campus has to offer," MSA Senator Phyllis Williams said. "This resolution can help us ensure that."

A resolution to research the costs and benefits of expanding EZ Charge to local restaurants met more resistance than the meeting's other discussion topics.

MSA's Student Affairs Committee approached the issue last month, but talks of the EZ Charge expansion were halted when the committee met with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs and Business Services Director Paul Toler and discovered the expansion would involve charging credit to businesses not associated with the university.

"There are a lot of questions for credit and banking and we're looking at how other universities have bypassed these challenges," MSA Senate Speaker Amanda Shelton said. "I would urge a collective research effort."

Members of MSA and RHA also expressed concern about implementing a new credit system for students to use.

"The current student graduates $40,000 in debt already and giving them another credit card won't help," Williams said. "I think it's a cool idea but it really isn't worth it."

The organizations eventually passed the resolution with an amendment to specify the research regarding EZ Charge was neither for nor against expanding the service.

The organizations also collectively passed a resolution to change the Department of Residential Life's policy for the winter and Thanksgiving breaks. The legislation proposed allowing students to stay in their residence halls over either break.

"Currently, if you're not in a hall that's open over winter break and you want to stay on campus you have to move into a different hall that is open over break," MSA Senator Evan Wood said. "In my opinion, Res. Life exists for serving students and their current policy creates a real inconvenience for some of them."

RHA passed the joint session's gavel to MSA at the conclusion of the meeting, symbolizing the transfer of the responsibility to organize the next joint session.

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