ETSU junior Devon Waldroff made history by pushing for a piece of legislation to make it through the Tennessee Legislature and be signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam.
Waldroff served in the Tennessee National guard for six years, then attended ETSU on scholarship. His military scholarship provides full tuition.
This is great unless a student loses their scholarship due to encountering an instructor lacking sympathy for the class time missed due to the service member’s extended weekend training or deployment. Once a month the Guard trains for an extended weekend. This is a weekend that lasts from Thursday through Sunday for drill practice.
“So I would miss two days of class, and I wouldn’t be near internet or a computer most times, so I would read my organic chemistry textbook by a headlamp,” said Waldroff.
Currently, there is a school policy that states that a student who misses more than seven classes will receive an automatic “F” for the course.
Waldroff thought about this rule when drafting his piece of legislation. Although he had sympathetic instructors who made exceptions for him attendance wise, he thought about what would happen to others who were less fortunate than him.
His legislation states that if a student who is also in the military is deployed, then they can withdraw, even if it’s after the withdrawal date, and they can have an incomplete instead of an “F” for a grade.
During the Gatlinburg fires, Waldroff’s sector was called in to help stop the wildfires; he did not go because he could have lost his scholarship because of it. The wildfires happened around the time that he had exams and he was unable to adjust his schedule accordingly.
“I joined the Guard because I wanted to help East Tennessee. During Gatlinburg, I was afraid that I couldn’t help because it would impact my education,” Waldroff said.
Gatlinburg was a situation where Guard members had a choice of whether they would go, but there are situations where it’s mandatory to leave.
“In cases where a large hurricane or tornado or a war kicked off somewhere, there is not a great chance of us planning ahead academically for such an event. I thought about students in those situations and how I could help them,” Waldroff said.
Waldroff was part of an event titled “Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature”. TISL is the event where he crafted his piece of legislation.
For the 2017- 18 school year, he served as a Student Government Association senator and is set to serve as Secretary of Allocations in 2018-19, meaning that he’ll oversee the Buc fund.
He said he enjoys being part of SGA because it’s good to get a different perspective of a situation from those of a different generation.
“The generational gap can be kind of wide at times,” said Waldroff, “but together we can positively impact the different organizations on campus and the different student groups.”