The Weber State University student senate discussed in its weekly senate meeting Monday a proposed bill that would allow a WSU graduate student to hold elected student office while only enrolled in nine credit hours.
According to the WSU policies and procedures manual, a graduate student is considered a full-time student if they are taking nine or more credit hours. However, in order to hold office in student government, a student must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours.
Students will vote on the bill during this year’s election.
“They can (hold office), but they have to hold twelve credit hours to run for it,” said Brady Harris, Davis campus senator. “In the graduate programs, none of them have twelve credit hours. It’s mostly six to nine, so asking a graduate student to take twelve is not a fair load for them.”
If the bill passes, graduate students will be able to run for an elected office with a lower amount of credit hours next year.
“This is something that, if ratified, it would need to be presented to the student body at large during the elections this coming cycle,” said Justin Neville, the senate president.
The subject was originally brought up last year when graduate students were being denied access to some of the services on campus.
“The services didn’t know that they paid student fees,” Harris said. “That brought up the question, ‘who is representing these people?’ We all kind of do, but there isn’t really that graduate voice.”
Harris wrote the bill and is the main sponsor for it, but he is not the only one in favor of passing it.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said David Wilson, traditional students senator. “I think they would be a great asset . . . (graduate students) have a lot of abilities and experiences.”
Wilson is a co-sponsor of the bill along with Andrew Gardiner, the College of Business senator.
“There is some debate between the graduate program boards on what qualifies a full-time student,” Harris said. “The policy that was put in place this year by the faculty senate that it is nine credit hours, but there is still some debate . . . that nine credit hours might not be enough.”
The bill has been worded to accommodate this debate. If the program the graduate student is in says they are full time student, they can run for office.
The senate voted on the bill on Monday, and it was unanimously passed. Now that it has passed through the student senate, it can be voted on by the students.
The senate will probably do an awareness campaign in order to let students know about this issue.
“Students need to be aware because everyone is going to have to vote for this. They’ll see it on their ballot, so we’ll probably do an awareness campaign to educate the general student body and what they are voting for,” Harris said. “It is a constitutional amendment, and I don’t want to take it lightly because it governs everybody.”
Voting for student senate candidates and the issues that will be on the ballot will occur in March.
“I think typically it’s going to be well supported. No one wants to eliminate graduate student representation,” Harris said.