Academic Senate again delays vote on student mental health day bill 

By Sarah Sternhagen, staff writer

The Towson University Academic Senate voted Monday to send the Student Government Association’s recommended excused mental health day bill to the Academic Standards Committee, postponing a vote for the second time.

Chair Bart Debicki broke the 13-13 tie in favor of forwarding the bill to the ASC, which will review the language used to integrate the policy into the university’s existing attendance guidelines. 

The ASC will then provide the Academic Senate with a recommendation on how to vote.

This is the first substantial change in attendance policy the senate has considered since Debicki’s tenure as chair began in September, he said in an email Tuesday. 

The Academic Senate often turns to its committees for opinions, he said. 

“It is critical that we do our due diligence to discuss it at length to consider all potential outcomes, and that we rely on the analysis and opinion of a senate committee that has the expertise and resources necessary to properly analyze the policy to assess its potential consequences for all parties involved,” Debicki said. 

“Policies of this magnitude and impact cannot be forced or rushed; they have to be properly analyzed and reviewed, and all potential outcomes need to be considered,” he continued. 

Debicki added that the SGA’s resolution did not include the policy itself, but requested the creation of one, and “the process of developing such a policy, however, takes time and has to include a variety of individuals.” 

If passed, the bill would update Towson’s attendance policy to allow students one excused mental health day per semester. 

The academic senators debated if students would need to provide documentation, such as a doctor’s note, to use the mental health day, how the bill would work into current attendance policy and if the one day offered was appropriate. 

SGA Government Operations Chair Clifton Crosby Jr. said during discussions that the mental health day would be treated as a regular excused absence, simply adding it to the list of acceptable reasons for one.

Jordan Colquitt, the SGA’s president, told The Towerlight he was unhappy the bill had been pushed back again. The Academic Senate did not vote on it in its March 4 meeting due to time constraints. 

“I hope that when it comes back before the body that they have a favorable recommendation [from ASC] and that we’re able to finally give students this baseline opportunity to recognize that we as a university understand, that we acknowledge the mental challenges that students face,” Colquitt said. “It’s not rocket science we’re dealing with, it’s students’ lives and mental health.”

The SGA initially passed the mental health day resolution on Nov. 28, The Towerlight reported.

The Academic Senate will reconvene on May 6.

Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified Government Operations Chair Clifton Crosby Jr. for Shawn Bell, the vice president of the SGA. The article has been updated to correctly attribute the information to Crosby Jr. The Towerlight regrets this error.


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