Student advisory committee created for College of Natural Sciences

Sonali Menon, News reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the October 29 flipbook.

UT Student Government approved a bill Oct. 12 to create a new student advisory committee within the College of Natural Sciences that would allow students to take part in the college’s leadership decisions.

The College of Natural Sciences Dean’s Student Advisory Committee is modeled after the President’s Student Advisory Committee but will operate at a smaller scale so students can work directly with the dean of CNS on issues pertinent to the student body at the time, said Braxdon Cannon, a mathematics and sustainability studies sophomore who sponsored the bill. 

Neuroscience sophomore Avery Sinnathamby said she wrote the bill after discussions with various members of CNS representative groups to bridge the gap in leadership when the college gets a new full-time dean after the previous dean left in March.

“This is really just to foster better communication and collaboration amongst the student body and student organizations on campus,” Sinnathamby said. “The biggest (goal) is to really set the standard and the expectation from the student side that we expect a certain level of communication and a certain level of collaboration with the college.”

Conversations regarding the creation of the committee started two years ago, but the recent shifts in leadership in CNS opened the window to take action, said Rohit Prasad, president of the Natural Sciences Council.

The 12 members of the committee will be made up of CNS representatives from Student Government, members of the Natural Sciences Council, and members of the CNS Black and Latinx Advocacy Council, according to the bill. SG is currently taking internal applications to join the committee, and meetings are expected to begin in November, Cannon said.

The committee will allow students to voice their opinions about aspects of the college that need to be changed and to collaborate to address problems in the CNS, said Brianna Middleton, a biochemistry senior and appointed representative for the BLAC.

“This is definitely a great step in the right direction,” Middleton said. “The first thing it does is acknowledge that (there) is a problem and that there is an active approach to solve that problem.”

The bill also featured an amendment to allow other colleges to potentially create similar committees. 

“From a Student Government perspective, a lot of representatives are interested in recreating this in their own colleges, which is a great precedent to hopefully start,” Sinnathamby said.