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President Megan Handle and Treasurer Reagan Farmer talk before the Student Senate meeting in Walter Hall at Ohio University, Athens, Feb. 28, 2024.

Student Senate, administration work together to implement student policies

Student Senate passes numerous resolutions and initiatives for Ohio University; however, it’s up to the university to start implementing university-wide initiatives. 

The Period Project, a bill created by the Women’s Affairs Commission and passed in a Senate meeting in February 2023, granted university-wide access to free period products, according to a previous Post report. However, the project will not take full effect until 2028.

Academic Affairs Commissioner Dylan DeMonte said in recent years, the administration has been more receptive to the Senate’s initiatives, but there are some delays in when the Senate’s legislation will roll out to all students. 

“I think a lot of members of administration are usually open and willing to hear what we want to support and how we want to change things,” DeMonte said. “I think sometimes it sort of hits a wall whenever it's their turn to do execution and whenever it's their turn to figure out how it's actually going to be implemented.”

Dean of Students Kathy Fahl said in a statement, that the Senate sometimes passes legislation that is “not always binding,” but still serves as an important way for students to voice their opinions and concerns.

The Senate advocated to change the LGBT Center to the Pride Center in Fall 2023, Fahl said, and that while the name change was not binding legislation, it sparked discussion among students and faculty about renaming the center. In turn, the center will receive a name change in March.

Student Senate President Megan Handle said Senate members' legislation typically receives better feedback from administrators when members are prepared with everything concerning the initiative and can explain how the legislation will benefit students and the university. 

Handle said there’s never been an instance when the university rejected legislation in a mean way. She said that when legislation fizzles out, the university gives a logical explanation and offers some alternative routes.

However, DeMonte and Handle agree most change within the Senate happens internally. 

“I think one of the things that we really tried to do in terms of doing effective student advocacy is using our own budget to fund events and projects and initiatives,” DeMonte said. “And especially with the student engagement grant funding from Student Affairs this year, it has really helped us expand student advocacy directly from our body so that we don't have to wait on all of those other governing bodies to approve policy changes.”

Handle emphasized when dealing with higher education changing legislation can be a lengthy process and take time. 

One recent university bill Senate passed was DeMonte’s bill, which focused on creating a bereavement policy to assist grieving students in getting accommodation for time off used during the passing of an immediate family member, according to a previous Post report.

“Things we've come up with this year, Dylan worked on a bereavement student bereavement policy, so that is in the works, it … passed through our body but has gone to the higher-up levels in terms of being considered as a university policy,” Handle said.

DeMonte also pushed that any legislation passed is a good thing, as getting every legislative body involved in the legislative process to agree on an initiative can be difficult.

“Unfortunately, this might be a rare occurrence sometimes for educational policies, especially because faculty are so resistant, but we were very lucky this year to have passed a bill supporting a standardized bereavement policy for grieving students,” he said.

Handle said besides the Student Senate, there is a Graduate Student, Faculty and Administrative Senate that works with the OU president and provost. Each senate has a shared governance structure when creating policies and working on committees. 

DeMonte said OU President Lori Stewart Gonzalez is open to getting different groups of students involved to offer their opinions on policy change and the goals of the university. 

“It's not like there's some big bolt or wall between us, right?” he said. “But it's more like, how can we present what we want to change on campus in a way that they see as actionable and doable?” 


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