The Associated Student Government discussed possible changes to their academic standards after the removal of a senator due to grades.
Former student representative Josh Villanueva was removed this month after a failing grade in a physics course dragged his semester GPA below a 2.0.
“Josh was one of the more experienced [senators],” said President Isaac Eaves. “He was the vice president last semester, so I was really looking forward to having him.”
Villanueva noted that although the 2015-2016 term officially started July 1, he was not notified until Aug. 20.
“He was removed,” said Dean Ben Partee. “He wasn’t kicked out. And it’s based on a semester GPA, that’s our standard.”
The Student Senate Constitution states beginning at the semester of their election, senators must be enrolled in a minimum of five units, maintain a semester grade point average of at least 2.0 and stay in good academic standing.
Article Two sparked confusion among Senators, as the phrase “semester of their election” demands that Villanueva’s Spring semester grades affect his Fall semester position.
The article also states that prospective candidates must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5, while current senators must keep an average of at least 2.0. Therefore, beginning the semester in which they’re elected, a senator’s semester grades cannot drop below a 2.0 and their cumulative GPA cannot drop below 2.5.
“We’re going to change it for the bigger picture,” said Eaves. “Not just because this happened to Josh.” He added that the changes will “make things clearer and less open to interpretation.”
Both Eaves and Villanueva mentioned the apparent loophole in Section Four.
“Even if I get taken off of senate, I could potentially be put on as a senator again,” said Villanueva. “Because I have way over a 2.5 cumulative GPA.”
Partee and Eaves emphasized that the law is in place to ensure that students focus on their grades instead of the student senate.
“If you’re below a 2.0, you shouldn’t have the time to be a senator,” said Eaves. “You should be focusing on being a student.”
Villanueva addressed the concern, “The only reason why I’m fighting for this is because I feel like senate didn’t affect my GPA. I took physics and it was a pretty brutal course.”
The senators also discussed whether there should even be a minimum grade requirement.
“At general assembly this came up,” said Senator Matt Marino. “And a lot of people were questioning the legality of having a minimum GPA requirement because its a bar to entry into student government.”
Eaves compared the GPA requirement to that of school sports teams, saying, “Some can see it as a barrier for entry or some can see it as a standard.”
The student senate members will discuss the issue further at their next meeting, at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 4, in Campus Center Room 223.
[Editor’s Note: Josh Villanueva was not vice president last semester as reported in the story but was commissioner of clubs. Eaves provided incorrect information in an interview]