By Alex Spadacenta and Lillian Andemicael
The University of Maryland SGA voted Wednesday to begin discussions with the Student Organization Resource Center about including sexual misconduct prevention policy and procedures in its student group model constitution.
The bill, which passed 29-3 with two abstentions, states that the Student Government Association endorses the effort to encourage SORC to include a clause about sexual misconduct prevention policy in its mock constitution. Student groups must draft a constitution for the center to recognize them.
The bill makes student groups more accountable for creating healthy environments, said Chris Niccolini, the North Hill representative who wrote the bill and a member of the SGA Sexual Misconduct Prevention Committee.
"This will simply create a safeguard saying, 'Yes, you were aware it's in your constitution,'" the freshman government and politics major said. "The issue is not so much in changing with the way student groups operate but rather taking away a possible excuse [for negligence]."
Noah Eckman, an engineering representative, argued against passing the bill. He said he believes putting this clause in won't change the way student groups operate.
"I don't disagree with the premise of making our campus safer or a more inclusive space for anyone," said Eckman, a member of the Student Group Committee. "My problem with this bill lies in the fact that [it] treads the ground between doing nothing about sexual assault and then actually making impact to student groups through whatever means possible."
At Wednesday's meeting, the SGA also passed a resolution to sign the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Initiative, which aims to make renewable energy account for 50 percent of the state's electricity by 2030.
By signing onto the initiative, the SGA joins more than 500 groups in the state that support legislation to increase the percentage of Maryland's renewable energy under the state's current renewable portfolio standard program, which requires the production of renewable power from solar, wind, biomass and geothermal sources. The clean energy campaign supports efforts to remove waste incineration, which contributes to pollution, from the program as well.
The initiative also wants legislation that would promote job growth by funding clean energy workforce development and investing in businesses owned by economically disadvantaged communities.
The resolution, which passed 32-0 with one abstention, was sponsored by Benjamin Zimmitti, an agriculture representative, and Lily Kilduff, an off-campus neighboring representative.
While Zimmitti, a senior agriculture and resource economics major, realizes Maryland alone cannot mitigate climate change, he said he thinks the state should take a leading role in the efforts.
"By encouraging more energy coming from renewable sources, that encourages more solar businesses to spring up or expand," Zimmitti said. "It also encourages no wind farm development both onshore and offshore, which serves diverse geographic economic benefits across MD."
A referendum question regarding a student activities fee decrease was rescheduled to Nov. 20.