WSGA to draft student bill of rights

Election round: WSGA announces presidential candidates for the 2020-2021 school year at a weekly meeting Feb. 5.

Adam Vlach

Washburn Student Government Association is taking a large step to ensure the rights of students.

Cassandra White, president of Washburn Student Government Association, announced Wednesday, Jan. 28 to the WSGA Senate that the organization will be forming an advisory board to draft a student bill of rights.

The bill of rights will guarantee students’ rights “which no one can impede upon,” White said Wednesday.

Although the idea was just disclosed to the Senate on Wednesday, it has reportedly been a while in the making.

“We’ve been laying the groundwork this entire last fall,” White said on Thursday. “We’ve been meeting with professors, meeting with the faculty senate president, meeting with Dr. Farley, Dr. Pembrook, all the VPs, letting them know that this is something we want to pursue.”

White said all of the administrators with whom they had consulted were on board with the plan.

A chairperson has been selected for the committee, but the remaining members have not. White said she will not be a part of the committee, but she will have the final say on what gets ratified.

The advisory committee will look at the student bill of rights other universities across the nation have. White mentioned the University of Houston as one school having a student bill of rights. Washburn’s advisory board will ideally meet and work on the bill once a week.

White said the student bill of rights is not to give students rights, but to inform them of their rights and to protect them.

“We’re not giving [students] anything they don’t already have,” White said. “We’re just letting students know that it’s in writing, and when somebody comes in and says ‘No, you can’t do this,’ they can point to this and say, ‘Well this says I can.’ We’re just giving students the ability to stand up for themselves when the need arises.”

White made the point that while the current university administration is very helpful and supportive of students, it hasn’t always been that way. In the ‘60s, she said, students had far fewer rights than they do today, and, with this bill, hopes to preserve the rights students enjoy today for generations to come.

“One of the things I will probably argue needs to be included in whatever we decide to go through is the students’ ability to create organizations and convene and meet regularly on campus,” White said.

While this bill targets student organizations, it also applies to all students, whether they are in a registered student organization or not.

White emphasized that while some parts of the bill will protect student organizations, it will also equally protect the everyday student.

Students do not need to be in WSGA to be on the advisory board. Anyone who would like to be a part of the committee or suggest ideas may contact President White at [email protected]