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Dining hall hours and absence policy subjects of USG resolutions

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USG Senator Kimmy Sullivan (third from left) introduces her dining hall resolution in general assembly Wednesday night. Credit: Matt Dorsey | Lantern Reporter

Undergraduate Student Government passed two resolutions unanimously Wednesday night that call for the expansion of dining hall hours and a university-wide policy for excused absences. Both passed with unanimous consent in general assembly Wednesday night.

The future of the resolutions, which are not binding, are uncertain.

“The Office of Student Life welcomes student input,” spokesman Dave Isaacs said in a statement to The Lantern. “We view USG to be a vital partner in our effort to create the extraordinary student experience for all Ohio State students, and value their interest and engagement.”

The dining resolution seeks to give students with meal plans more options in the hours they can use the plans. It was authored and sponsored by Kimmy Sullivan, a second-year in political science and international studies.

“We want to get rid of any gaps (in dining hall hours) in the day, as well as extending them later into the night, so students have more flexibility,” she said.

The resolution states that the closing times of 10 p.m. on weekdays and 8 p.m. on weekends at Traditions locations is too early for many students. It lists seven Big Ten universities with later weekday hours than OSU and six with later weekend hours.

Discussion of the resolution lasted just less than 20 minutes and centered around concerns of keeping the student employees who staff the dining halls at work later.

“By extending the hours it’ll just take more time away from (student-employees’) learning time. And by extending hours on the weekends, it will affect that even more,” said Vincent Liu, a fourth-year in sociology and communication, as well as USG’s international student emissary.

Michael Frank, a third-year in political science and economics, echoed Liu’s concern and added that the safety of workers leaving at later hours will need to be addressed.

The excused absence resolution recommends the university adopt a uniform policy for dealing with students who miss class “due to extenuating circumstances including but not limited to job interviews, illness, graduate or professional school interviews, medical emergencies, bereavement and family emergencies.” It also asks for standardization of how missed classwork and exams will be handled.

Sponsor and author of the resolution Zach Clark, a second-year in philosophy and environmental policy, said the problem with current policy is its inconsistency between different classes.

“This would help professors,” he said. “It would set a clear guideline, because oftentimes excused absences and absences in general kind of fall in this gray area where it is up to their discretion. And oftentimes professors and instructors are put in tough situations. So, this would help lay a foundation and clear guidelines as to how to deal with absences.”

The issue was personal for some members.

Jake Moawad, a third-year in chemical engineering, expressed strong support for the resolution, noting an experience in which he felt he was unfairly penalized for an absence.

“My grandmother passed away and I had to fly out to California for the funeral,” Moawad said. “But the class had a very strict three absence policy. After that, it’s a third of a letter grade (deduction). And it said there’s no difference between unexcused and excused.”

Lauren Fechtel, a second-year in history and political science, also expressed support for the resolution.

“Emergencies should be accommodated as best they can,” she said. “I just think having a standard policy would make a lot of sense.”

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