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The Student Government Association (SGA) Senate appointed Emily Butters as the SGA Representative to Faculty Senate at Tuesday night's meeting.

The Student Government Association (SGA) Senate nominated senior Emily Butters to the position of SGA Representative to the Faculty Senate, ratified an amendment to the SGA Constitution and approved a statement condemning a recent hate crime at the University of Virginia (U.Va.) at Tuesday’s meeting.

Emily Butters appointed as SGA Representative to Faculty Senate

The Senate unanimously approved the nomination of Emily Butters to the position of SGA Representative to JMU’s Faculty Senate.

“Emily has been a part of [SGA] since her first semester here at JMU and I believe that she not only has the skillset to do this position, but to do this position well,” senior Carlin McNeil Bumgarner, student body vice president, said. 

Outside of the meeting, Bumgarner said the position entails Butters to sit in on Faculty Senate meetings, which take place the first Thursday of every month, and take note of the Faculty Senate’s concerns, whether those focus on JMU’s academic environment or the direction of the university. Butters will then report back to the SGA Senate.

Bumgarner also said one of Butters’ main goals is to bridge the gap between the SGA and faculty senates and prevent any possibility of the organizations being on “different paths.”

“I’m excited to serve this term,” Butters said outside of the meeting, “and hopefully improve our relationship with the Faculty Senate and get some things done.”

SGA approves Academic Council amendment to constitution 

The SGA Senate unanimously approved an amendment to its constitution. The amendment, proposed by sophomore Zach Fleming, SGA’s academic affairs chairperson, specifies that the student body president has the option to simply attend Academic Council meetings rather than lead the proceedings, as the student body president has done in the past. With this change, the council will be led by the academic affairs chairperson — Fleming, currently — rather than the president. 

The Academic Council, composed of all academic SGA senators, works directly with the academic departments and colleges of JMU and meets no more than twice a month.

Outside of the Senate meeting, Fleming said the purpose of the amendment is to relieve some of the responsibility placed on the student body president. 

“Since the president already has so much on [their] plate already, I wanted to relieve some of that responsibility and give it to, specifically, the academic affairs chair,” Fleming said.

Fleming said he proposed the amendment as a reaction to the Academic Council’s difficulty to make progress in the past, largely due to the pandemic.

SGA approves release of statement speaking against racial intolerance at U.Va.

The Senate unanimously approved a resolution to release a statement in support of Black students at U.Va. after a hate crime was committed on the university’s grounds.

According to a Sept. 17 article from The Daily Progress, the hate crime took place Sept. 7 and involved a white male student hanging a noose onto the statue of Homer located on U.Va.’s south lawn, alongside several documents. The contents of these documents have yet to be released.

The Daily Progress specifies that this is classified as a hate crime due to the Noose Hate Crime Act of 2011, which outlines that any display of a noose in public with the intent to harass or intimidate someone based on their race, national origin, or religion is considered a federal crime. 

Additionally, The Daily Progress states in a different article, published Sept. 8, that the reason this action was ruled a hate crime was due to the noose itself serving as a symbol of racism and racially motivated killings that have taken place in the past.

The Senate’s resolution says the Black students of U.Va. have reported being denied further information from both the U.Va. Police Department and U.Va. administration. The resolution also states that other student groups at JMU, such as the JMU Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Shades of Pride, the JMU Black Student Alliance, the Xi Delta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha and the Beta Delta Delta chapter of Omega Psi Phi, have spoken out in solidarity with U.Va.'s Black community.

“Whereas, as a Student Government Association, it is our civic duty to stand out and speak against racial injustices we see not only at our university, but … especially at other public universities in Virginia during their students’ time of need,” the resolution said.

The Senate’s statement outlines SGA’s position of solidarity with U.Va.’s Black community and will be released on SGA’s social media accounts and sent to key figures at JMU, including President Jonathan Alger; Vice President for Student Affairs Tim Miller; Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Heather Coltman; Student Body President Shawdee Bakhtiari; Student Body Vice President Carlin McNeil Bumgarner; Student Representative to the Board of Visitors Xaiver Williams; Speaker of SGA Daniel Gaffin; and SGA Communications Director Melody Haak.

Sophomore Alexis Alston, senator to the College of Science and Mathematics, worked alongside members of SGA’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice and Accessibility (DEIJA) Committee to compose the resolution.

“If this were to happen at our university … it is our civic duty as the SGA to stand with our students,” Alston said.

Contact Eleanor Shaw at shaweo@dukes.jmu.edu. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.