Student Senate proposes fee increase in resolution

Liberal Arts senators Gabrielle Vickers, left, Brandon Berens, middle, and Roman Vasquez give attention to student affairs chairman Jackson Airhart during discussion about a resolution Nov. 7 in the Student Government Chambers. Both Vickers and Berens shared their own experiences using Counseling and Psychological Services to facilitate conversation about a Student Senate resolution calling for the program to allow students to schedule their first appointment online.

In his two semesters as a College of Engineering senator, Yash Singh has never seen a closer vote than the 13-11-1 vote the Student Senate cranked out Nov. 7.

After about seven months of research, an hour of discussion and debate, and about three minutes of a vote, the senate adopted the resolution requesting the Counseling and Psychological Services office introduce an online scheduling system for first-time appointments.

“That’s the first time I’ve seen a vote that close,” Singh said. “This was legitimately, like, split halves.”

The office currently schedules appointments in person or over the phone. For emergency cases, the office offers a 24-hour emergency hotline. Katie Gosa, resolution author and student body president, said in an email that she wrote the resolution to provide another venue for scheduling appointments for students uncomfortable making appointments over the phone or in person.

During discussion in the Nov. 7 general body meeting, senators attempted to close the discussion and vote. Scattered “nays” kept the floor open for further debate, and more senators shared their specific concern or support for the resolution before the eventual vote to adopt it.

“That’s something we want to see. We want them to voice their opinion,” senate speaker Julianne Kirby said. “There are some people who want to move on to the next one because they like it, but there are other people that don’t.”

Kirby said the close vote might have been a result of both the subject and a sign of future voting patterns. Most resolutions that go to the general body for a vote are adopted, she said.

“Maybe this will be a change that we start seeing – more close calls kind of like that, and I’m not against it,” she said. “It just makes it very interesting.”

The resolution underwent research by the Student Affairs committee. Committee chairman Jackson Airhart facilitated the research process and discussion in the committee.

“Anytime you bring up CAPS and counseling services, it’s an emotional discussion,” Airhart said. “This is an emotional matter. People get excited and want to voice their opinion.”

Research included asking six other universities, such as UT-Austin, if they used an online scheduling system for Counseling and Psychological Services. Only one of the six schools, Texas A&M University, use an online scheduling system, according to the resolution. The committee found a list of other schools beyond the first six who did use scheduling systems, including Southern Methodist University and Purdue University.

Airhart voted against the resolution in the general body meeting.

“When I think of those schools, I don’t think of UT Arlington as the same as those schools,” he said.

Airhart said adding the online system would provide a new avenue for students to reach the services provided. He said his vote to kill the resolution did not mean it would not benefit the student community.

“I’d like to think that the way we vote reflects how the student community would vote if that were a thing,” he said.


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