SG passes legislation addressing University domestic abuse, sexual assault policies

Katie Balevic

Student Government passed two key pieces of legislation addressing the University’s domestic abuse and sexual assault policies and actions against pharmacy professor Richard Morrisett, who remains on staff after pleading guilty to charges of domestic abuse.

The authors of Assembly Resolution 23 and Joint Resolution 5 relied on a poll of pharmacy students to gauge their reactions to the proposed legislation. A.R. 23 is in support of firing Morrisett, while J.R. 5 calls for more stringent policies against professors convicted of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

Both resolutions passed unanimously.

“We wanted the legislation to be written, as we hoped that it would be passed,” said Natalie Engel, an author of both resolutions. “We wanted to get (pharmacy students’) perspective on the language that we used and the consequences that we asked for.”

Pharmacy students were polled via Canvas about their reactions and suggestions to the resolutions. They overwhelmingly supported the points outlined in J.R. 5 and voted 88 percent in favor of the resolution, said Lubna Mazin, pharmacy representative and graduate student.

Morrisett also failed to alert the University of his convictions within a timely manner, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The policies for J.R. 5 were written with the knowledge that the University may retroactively review Morrisett’s case, said Connor Vanden Hoek, transfer student representative.

“If they retroactively review (Morrisett), these policies would technically warrant firing,” government sophomore Vanden Hoek said.

Sixty-six percent were in favor of passing A.R. 23 as written as of noon on Tuesday, said Engel, a social work and communication studies senior.

“We wrote the legislation in a way that allowed us to express the sentiments of the College of Pharmacy while also respecting the boundaries of Student Government and what we have the power to do as representatives,” Engel said.