At the final student senate meeting of the semester, members of SGA voted yes on a commendation for the founding members of the Auburn Gay and Lesbian Association, or AGLA.
Founded in the early 90’s after a legal battle with the SGA to receive a charter, the AGLA was a precursor to the University’s current gay-straight alliance, Spectrum.
According to those who supported it, the commendation acted as a way to recognize the hardships the founding members had to face in order to form a group celebrating LGBT students.
Graduate School Sen. Max Zinner sponsored the bill and in last week’s Nov. 27 meeting gave a presentation to the Senate on why the AGLA needed recognition. Monday night, several students including members and executives of Spectrum voiced their thoughts on the importance of the commendation.
“We have the ability as a student body to show that Auburn is moving forward, that it is more progressive and that it is a hospitable place for the growing number of minority groups here at the university,” said Erin Walker, Spectrum’s director of political affairs. “I think it is up to us… to show that we are cognizant and that we are growing and changing as a university.”
Before voting on the commendation, Zinner proposed to amend part of the commendation reading “We, the Auburn University Student Senate, acknowledge that this organization endured a campus climate that was not accepting of LGBT individuals” to include “perpetuated by the Student Government Association.”
Some senators took issue with this addition, arguing that chastising the previous SGA wouldn’t fit in a statement of recognition.
“The purpose of a commendation is … to commend an organization and to recognize them for the great things they have done,” said Business Sen. Dixon Simmons. “I don't think its in the spirit of commendation to talk about the Student Government Association because that has nothing to do with recognizing how great this organization was.”
Zinner stood behind the proposed amendment, and was backed up by students who shared his beliefs.
“Having to stand up to an oppressive system like the SGA is an accomplishment; that takes effort,” said Spectrum member Cole Cheatham. “I think that is something that deserves to be acknowledged as part of the commendation.”
The proposed amendment to the commendation was voted down, but after several senators and students spoke on their support for it, the commendation as a whole was passed with all but one senator voting yes.
Additionally, the student senate passed a bill that would enable job and professional school interviews to count as excused absences.
At-large Sen. Emily Stone reminded everyone that the bill would still have to pass through faculty approval for it to go into effect, and after an amendment limiting the total number of interview excuses to three per semester, the bill was passed through.