SGA Oath of Inclusion suspended

SGA Oath of Inclusion suspended

The SGA recently passed a resolution that suspended the use of the Oath of Inclusion by non-students at SLU, claiming that several departments were using the Oath in promotional materials to deceive minority students.

“I hear over and over that first year black students feel like they were tricked and lied to. I feel like SLU tried to write a check for inclusion and it bounced; there is a gap between what we say we are and what we actually are,” said Senator Noelle Janak on the senate floor.

This idea is at the core of the changes that have been pushed in recent weeks.

“Because the Oath of Inclusion was an initiative started by students for students, many members of Senate and their constituents find it troubling that the Oath is used by departments to solely gain greater representation of minority students on campus,” wrote SGA President Kevin Lynch in his most recent update.

Since the decision passed, comment threads have been abuzz with concerns over the fate of the Oath which, up until now, many students and alumni believed was untouchable.

“The Oath of Inclusion is not being changed. We’re not setting it on fire,” assured Jay Hardin, Vice President of Internal Affairs. The Oath of Inclusion hasn’t been changed, but how it can be used has.

The process of coming to this decision was complex.

Senators Tommy English, Noelle Janak and George Tharp drafted and proposed the resolution on March 1 which, “after much healthy debate and discussion,” passed 20 – 3 – 1, according to Lynch.

The original resolution proposed that the Oath of Inclusion be renamed the “Oath of Tolerance.”

“[The Oath] holds students to a standard. By changing the name, what you’re doing is changing the standard. You’re lowering the standard that students are being held to,” said Andrew Budd, one of three senators who voted against the final version of the bill.

There followed two amendments to the resolution. The first proposed that SGA reclaim the rights to the Oath. “SGA actually owns the Oath,” said Hardin. “We are the people that drafted it. It is ours.”

The second and final amendment revised the bill so that the Oath’s name would remain the same, but its use by administrative offices would be suspended going forward.

That final amendment passed as a “friendly amendment,” meaning that the authors agreed with the amendment, and it would go through without debate. Budd took issue with this process.

“I think I could’ve been swayed into passing,” said Budd. “But there was no discussion on suspending the Oath going forward.”

However, the Oath’s use has not been suspended without exception. Lynch proposed the creation of a task force, named the Student Government Association Task Force for the Student Inclusion Initiative, which would hear requests from administrative offices to use the Oath in promotional materials.

“We’re hoping that by making them come in and get it approved, the Oath will mean more to them than just a marketing tool. So they’ll actually stand behind it when they try to get more diverse students,” said Hardin.

The task force will consist of an odd number of members, some of whom will be non-SGA representatives, who “have a depth of knowledge on inclusion,” according to the minutes of last week’s senate meeting.

“They will have a preliminary conversation with whoever is requesting approval, and my vision of this is that they would offer an opinion on whether this individual or department should be able to use [the Oath], and that would be presented to the entire Senate. The entire Senate would have the final call,” said Lynch.

Senate has requested that the first task of the soon-to-be-appointed task force be to explicitly state their criteria in determining whether or not the individual or department is working toward a truly inclusive environment, according to Lynch.

As developments continue to roll in via the oft-overlooked SGA weekly updates, members of the SGA hope that students will begin to take an interest.

“We’re trying to get more people pumped up about the Oath. We’re trying to get people to live the Oath,” said Hardin. More details about the task force are to be released soon.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email