SGA discusses Halal dining options, online learning at virtual meeting – North Texas Daily

The Student Government Association held its Wednesday meeting virtually after the university closed due to inclement weather, where senators discussed three new pieces of legislation.

After postponing a continued discussion from the previous meeting of S2022-B2, titled “Revision of the Constitution,” until the next meeting on March 2, the first document up for discussion was S2022-B3, or “Budget Reallocations and Funding Program Donations.”

The legislation proposes to reallocate excess funds to the Eagle’s Nest Fund and the Raupe Travel Grant. SGA President Devon Skinner presented the bill to the senate under emergency status due to its time-sensitive nature.

“Raupe is essentially out of money,” Skinner said. “Eagle’s Nest I think has about $10,000 left, but [Student Allocations Director Bella Armenta] anticipates that will be gone pretty quickly — $10,000 can go by pretty fast when it’s Eagles Nest.”

Several committee costs and overall expenses, such as office supplies, would be trimmed down based on recent budget reports to allow as much money as possible to go to the programs. One trim was $876, the cost of office phone lines, something Skinner believes is no longer an SGA expense.

After an amendment to include the most recent figures, the legislation passed unanimously. Raupe and Eagle’s Nest will both receive $3,502.33 from the newly calculated $7,004.66 surplus.

The second item discussed by senators was S2022-R4, titled “Door Decoration Policy Within Residence Halls.” Introduced by College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Senator Ethan Gillis and College of Science Senator Winston Ihemeremadu, the resolution would hypothetically prevent a student’s deadname from appearing on their room’s door or accidentally “out” a student to their parents by placing a chosen name on the door.

The legislation, Gillis explained, would require a resident assistant to get approval from a student before decorating their door, allowing a student to either request a preferred name or a deadname if they are not out to their parents.

Some attending senators were concerned Gillis did not understand the amount of work an RA does when creating door decorations — something they are required to do.

“RAs need to make door decorations much ahead of time,” CLASS Senator Daniel Garcia said. “Before the academic year even starts.”

Gillis said an RA holding off decorations until after getting consent from residents would be worth it.

“If doing that means we’re creating a more accepting space for our students at UNT, one where students don’t show up on move-in day and see a name already put up on the door that does not represent who they are, I think that is a sacrifice that’s going to have to be made,” Gillis said.

Gillis stated he was open to speaking with RAs and university housing directors before continued discussions next week.

S2022-R5, named “Food For All Students,” was introduced next by CLASS Senators Grant Johnson, Alejandro Castellanos and non-SGA member Muslim Student Association President Mustafa Syed.

Aimed at the university’s dining services, the legislation would require Halal meat options for the estimated 1,000 Muslim students on campus.

“The response that was given to me was that if a student is choosing to eat Halal it is understood that a student should be eating off of campus,” Syed said. “A representative from UNT dining services told me this specifically.”

Syed said he did not believe the statement was indicative of religious discrimination.

“I don’t know if I would go as far as to say that,” Syed said. “I would have to get more context from UNT’s dining services to determine if it was discrimination based on religion.”

The idea to include Halal meat options is not new, said Syed. Other schools, including Southern Methodist University, New York University and the University of Texas at Austin offer inclusive food options such as Halal meat. A gala hosted by the MSA had Halal catering provided by the university, proving to Syed it was possible and financially beneficial.

“In terms of cost, I would say that given how many more students will be eating at the UNT’s dining services […] the cost margins and the profit margins would be the same and could possibly even be of benefit to UNT,” Syed said.

S2022-R5 is scheduled to be further discussed during the SGA’s next meeting on March 2.

“If a Muslim student wants to eat at any of the dining halls on campus, they should have the option to do so,” Syed said.

While the senate went over its executive reports, Skinner mentioned Vice President for Academic Affairs Jennifer Evans-Cowley had reached out in response to previous legislation asking the university to provide virtual class options. There had been discussions among university staff, Skinner said, to introduce HyFlex, a “Hybrid Flexible” format, for some courses.

“HyFlex is supposed to be a really advanced way of having a hybrid class setting,” Skinner said.

Professors are also still allowed to hold classes over Zoom with administrative approval if they so choose, Skinner said. HyFlex, if implemented, would also likely be optional and still require approval. Skinner plans to continue following up with Evans-Cowley to learn more about the administration’s plans.

Featured Image: Senator Rachel Lee speaks during an SGA meeting on Jan. 26, 2022. Photo by Lillian Vest

SGA discusses Halal dining options, online learning at virtual meeting

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