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Student Senate discusses interfaith worship, academic prize eligibility

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Ohio University Student Senate discussed the creation of an interfaith worship room and revised the eligibility and selection process for various awards Wednesday in Senate’s last meeting before spring break.

Sophomore Academic Affairs Vice Commissioner and South Green Senator Ben Mathes led talks that aimed to find appropriate room on campus for students to worship regardless of religion.

Multiple senators spoke on the need for a more inclusive space than College Green’s Galbreath Chapel. Although the chapel is open to all faiths, many members believe its Christian appearance discourages use as an interfaith center.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I can’t imagine that a chapel is something that is immediately intuitive for a Muslim (to use it) let alone anybody of other faiths,” said Combat Veterans Delegate Eric Burke, who was vocal in discussion. “It’s clearly a symbol of a specific faith… It’s important that we provide something that is an immediate go-to (for religious use).”

Senators advocated for space in Baker Center to be dedicated specifically for the room. They reviewed a number of locations with Dustin Kilgour, executive director of event services, who agreed to speak further with International Affairs Commissioner Hashim Pashtun about location and necessary components for the room.

Senate Vice President Mary Kate Gallagher also led Senate through a re-evaluation of the selection process for various Senate awards, including Senate Emeritus, the highest mark of praise a Senate member can receive.

Previously, an organized committee comprised of Student Senate members ultimately selected eight senators emeritus from senators who had served in Senate for two years. Gallagher proposed changes that would shorten requirements to one year of service, as well as involve Senate alumni in addition to current senators in the committee.

“It has been noted that Senator Emeritus is sometimes a popularity contest,” Gallagher said. “We need to hold our Senator Emeritus to a higher standard than we hold them now.”

Discussion ended with senators determining the minimum-emeritus eligibility to be one academic year. The selecting committee was reorganized to include a minority of Senate alumni as well as the ability to change the number of recipients of senator emeritus as they see fit.

Continued funding for Black Affairs Commission projects such as Program Curly Cue, designed to educate students on different types of hair and Black History Month, were also approved in the meeting.

Senators also continue to look into making academic code of conduct policies more integrated and transparent with the Office of Community Standards.

After a recent report surfaced of a student failing a class after being accused of cheating by a professor, community standards deemed that there was insufficient evidence to warrant a break in the academic code of conduct.

“We just want to make sure and see what the level of standard of proof that students need to show,” Mathes said. “Is each college’s process different? Is there a standard over the entire community?”

“We have individual cases but we don’t know the wide occurrence. There is definitely more information we need to find in terms of research.”

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