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OU Undergraduate Student Congress reforms code annotated, constitution to increase inclusivity

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SGA Meeting

Student representatives at the Student Government Association meeting on Oct. 1, 2019.

The Undergraduate Student Congress saw legislation reforming the Student Government Association code annotated and constitution to remove gendered pronouns, among other things, in the last meeting of its 102nd session. 

Representatives Crispin South and Gabi Thompson wrote bills to replace all gendered pronouns in the code annotated and constitution with the gender-neutral pronouns “they” and “them.” South said the changes would make congress’ governing documents more inclusive for nonbinary students. 

Thompson said the change makes sense because organizations like The Associated Press already recognize “they” and “them” as gender-neutral singular pronouns. 

The bill passed with a roll-call vote of 25-0-0, and Thompson said after the meeting that she hadn’t expected much pushback on the bill. 

“I think it’s something that our generation really recognizes — the different pronouns that people prefer,” Thompson said. “It’s a personal thing for everyone. And the more inclusive we can be, the better, and I think everyone sees that.”

Thompson said she saw the bill as long overdue but that congress is “moving into a place of more inclusivity.” 

“I think that this was something that I worked with (South) on because it was going to be a little bit of a bigger project,” Thompson said.

South said in a text that a change to the SGA constitution first requires a two-thirds majority vote in both the congress and the Graduate Student Senate. The amendment is then voted on as an issue during the SGA student elections next semester, and if passed by the student body, it goes to the OU Board of Regents for approval. 

During the meeting, current SGA president Adran Gibbs also gave a final executive branch report for his administration. 

Gibbs highlighted the Indigenous land acknowledgment added to the code annotated and the introduction of the first all-gender restrooms on campus as major successes during his term. Gibbs said before he leaves office, he plans to implement about 45 more all-gender restrooms across campus. 

Gibbs also mentioned the planned renovations to Sarkeys Fitness Center, as well as the opening of a Native Student Lounge in Copeland Hall, which he said should open next week. 

Immediately after the conclusion of the 102nd congressional session was the first meeting of the 103rd congressional session. A swearing-in ceremony for new members took place. 

Chair Emma DeAngeli said she was impressed by participation during the first meeting of the session and looks forward to getting to know the new members of congress. 

“There are some people who are leaving that I’m like, ‘We never fully sat down and got to chat,’” DeAngeli said. “And I always encourage people to come to my office hours, but this time, I’m like, ‘All right, one-on-one’ ... I’m really excited to do that, get to know everybody more.” 

DeAngeli said she thinks each piece of legislation passed during this past session will have a real impact on campus, unlike other sessions in the past. 

“It’s not like these people pass these resolutions like, ‘I hope this happens. Maybe it will. Who knows?’ They’ve been in contact. They’ve been collaborating with the people that they’re sending the resolution to,” DeAngeli said. “So it’s actually going to have real impact on campus because we’re working with different groups.”

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