SGA senator proposes new absence policy for students affected by COVID 

Kayla Solino | @kaylasolino, Staff Reporter

On Thursday, the Student Government Association Senate tabled a resolution that would require professors to provide materials, notes or lesson outlines for students who miss class because of COVID-19 quarantine. 

The resolution, authored by Culverhouse College of Business Sen. Drew St. Charles and sponsored by over a dozen senators, calls on the University to reconsider its absence policy to better serve students who test positive and are required to quarantine. 

The decision to table the vote caused heated debate over its effectiveness. St. Charles said he felt that his legislation wasn’t given a fair chance. 

“I submitted this legislation because I noticed an issue that had been unsolved on campus and wanted to act in the best interest of my constituents,” St. Charles said. “It was apparent that [the SGA] didn’t want the legislation discussed by the motion to be sent to committee before I had even presented.”

St. Charles called for a roll call vote, where each individual senator must state their vote following announcement of their name during the meeting, to show that “it was mostly the outspoken independent senators who wanted the resolution voted on immediately.” He said other senators were okay with tabling the vote and “voting based on what they were told from members of the executive cabinet or the Machine.” 

He said the outcome of the committee review will likely be at odds with his goal. When asked what he expects the committee to do with the tabled legislation, St. Charles’ answer was brief:

“Whatever [SGA President] Jill Fields tells them to do,” St. Charles said. 

Under the University’s current fall 2021 return plan, professors are not required to provide students with any excused absences, notes or lesson outlines to assist with missed classes due to COVID-19, quarantine or possible exposure. 

The resolution said the Senate finds these current guidelines challenging for students to keep up with their coursework and maintain good academic standing while missing in-person classes without accommodations. 

The UA System COVID-19 Dashboard reports 194 student cases and 23 positive faculty and staff members at the University for the week of Aug. 23-29. The week prior, the University saw 103 student cases and 14 faculty and staff cases. 

The resolution vote will likely be delayed until the next Senate meeting. 

“Students don’t need continued talks with administrators; they need to be reassured that getting sick will not decimate their academic standing. The Senate failed to see that today,” St. Charles said. 

SGA Press Secretary Olivia Davis declined to comment.