Senate legislation advocates for professors’ pronouns on syllabi

Anna Canizales

The first Senate of College Councils general assembly meeting of the semester focused on introducing new legislation, including requesting professors to include their pronouns on syllabi and surveying students on how they would like their tuition money to be allocated. 

Assembly members voted on a bill to amend Senate spending and a resolution to change class syllabi requirements. Both pieces of legislation introduced at the meeting passed unanimously.

Academic policy committee co-chair Isaac James co-authored a resolution in support of professors including their pronouns on class syllabi. James, a plan II and government sophomore, said he worked with the Education Policy Committee from Faculty Council to write the resolution. He also worked with the Texas Queer and Trans Student Alliance. 

Last semester, James passed a separate resolution, which mapped all gender-inclusive restrooms on campus.

“Right now, on the recommended UT syllabus template … there’s a place for pronouns, but I have yet to have a single professor use that,” James said. “It’s something super easy that could make educational spaces a lot more inclusive. The aim of this legislation is to encourage professors to do that.”

 Senate president Elena Ivanova promoted a survey for students to suggest where the University should allocate tuition money. Ivanova, a public health, government and plan II senior, said the survey was born out of the UT Board of Regents’ vote to increase tuition 2.6% last semester, which will go into effect for the 2020–21 academic year. She said she wants to receive 10,000 student responses on the survey.

“We just formalized our (tuition) survey,” Ivanova said. “We’re collecting responses from the student body until the middle of February. Then we will create reports based on that and put together a presentation at the beginning of March to relevant UT administrators.”

Senate policy director Hussain Alkhafaji said Senate wants to increase access to textbooks, video recordings of classes and resources for research.

Alkhafaji, a public health and journalism senior, said Senate is working closely with UT Libraries. Alkhafaji said textbooks are prohibitively expensive in many cases, so Senate wants to minimize extra fees through consolidating tools used across classrooms, such as iClicker and Squarecap.

“One of the things that we’re constantly trying to improve, but is often really difficult to achieve, is creating an organization that is more reflective of the University as a whole and the diversity that Texas brings,” Alkhafaji said.