UT Senate applications indefinitely postponed for review of governing documents by dean of students

Morgan Severson, News Reporter

The Office of the Dean of Students announced it is indefinitely postponing applications for the Senate of College Councils while it reviews the student organization’s governing documents to ensure they are consistent with University policy.

UT Senate president Echo Nattinger said the postponement was a decision that came unexpectedly on Aug. 1, the same day they annually release Senate applications.

“We had been made aware in the spring that they were conducting a review of our governing documents, but whenever we were told to pause our recruitment processes both my vice president and I were surprised,” said Nattinger, a government and Plan II senior. “When we were told on Aug. 1 that we would have to postpone, we were confused and alarmed as that requires a lot of work on our part to adjust our timelines.”

Nattinger said the governing documents of the UT Senate include the constitution, bylaws, election code and spending rules.

“The Office of the Dean of Students is currently revising the legislative student organizations’ governing documents for consistency, to resolve any gaps and to ensure they align with University policy, as part of our role as their sponsoring department,” said Sara Kennedy, director of strategic and executive communications for the Office of the Dean of Students. “We have advised the Senate of College Councils to pause some processes to prepare for the revised documents.”

Kennedy did not respond to multiple requests for comment on why or how the UT Senate’s governing documents may not align with University policy.

Nattinger said the Senate typically releases applications Aug. 1 to be able to solidify its new class of 48 members by mid-September. From there, she said the 48 members are sorted into eight internal committees that focus on a particular academic issue.

Nattinger said she is not sure how the Senate’s recruitment process will look, how many new members it will be able to take or how many committees there will be once the revised documents are released. However, she said she hopes the review is complete by the first day of class so Senate can begin its recruitment process and still finish by mid-September.  

Nattinger said the dean of students will consult her and Sameeha Rizvi, UT Senate vice president, about changes made to the governing documents. Nattinger said they have not received a draft of the revised governing documents yet, but once they do, they are going to “review them very meticulously.” 

“Right now, my plan is to still lead with confidence, and my big plans for the organization were really around uplifting student voices and making sure that we enhance the academic experience of students on campus,” Nattinger said. “So I’m hoping that regardless of what these new documents look like, we’re still empowered to make tangible changes for students on campus.”