Senate Talks New Positions and Future Projects
New Student Body President Aziz Ouedraogo ran this week’s Public Senate meeting for the first time in her new position. The former vice president assumed the role of president following former Student Body President Priya Narain’s resignation. The resignation was announced through the Student Body Information email released late evening of March 4. Narain cited “personal reasons” for her sudden resignation.
While the departure of Narain surprised many, the process of replacing student representatives is far from new; in the past calendar year, there have been a slew of resignations, open positions, and special elections, resulting in confusion and concern from many students. One of the main focuses of this Public Senate meeting was addressing the confusion of the student body.
Ouedraogo spoke about the process of replacing Narain: according to the Senate Bylaws, in the event of a resignation, the vice president assumes the position of president, which made Ouedraogo the new president. The vacant position of vice president is filled by a senator, with senators appointing one of their own. Senate internally appointed Alondra Loza, former chair of Appointments Committee (AppComm), as the new vice president. To be vice president, Loza had to resign her position as AppComm Chair. Safi Zenger, a first-year, is now the chair of the Appointments Committee after less than a semester of being a Senator, hoping to pick up right where Loza left off. Zenger’s training will happen fairly quickly, beginning as early as this week. Zenger’s position as legislative liaison will be passed to Margot Becker, the newest member of Senate. Becker and fellow new Senator Anjali Reddy got assigned to their new committees and liasonships, but are not expected to attend Public Senate meetings regularly due to prior commitments.
While there is an open Senate seat, Ouedraogo and Loza don’t intend to hold another special election this term. Loza spoke about the energy and time that electing and training a new senator takes, and Senate would rather use that energy working on various projects. This point was supported by nearly every Senator, the majority of which are in their first or second term in office and have just begun working on their respective committees and projects.
Vice President for Student Life Dr. Karnell McConnell-Black asked Senate to elaborate on their commitment to increasing the amount of communication from Senate to students. Loza responded and spoke about the ongoing effort to not only spread information about Senate, but to listen to students and their thoughts. She mentioned a possible Senate news bulletin, a proposal to spread information about Senate to the public in a more centralized way. She also noted that an assessment form for students is in the works. This form would allow students to voice their opinions of Senate, allowing Senators to gauge public opinion on certain issues and projects.
McConnell-Black then asked about the Bylaws Committee and the process of changing Senate’s rules to ensure maximum efficiency. Loza noted that the Bylaws Committee is currently reviewing a number of bylaws and looking at the possibility of real reform. Loza spoke about Senate’s willingness to change certain bylaws for the sake of transparency and communication. Ouedraogo responded by highlighting the importance of the work that Senate does and said she is cautious about changing too many of the rules already in place. Experience and institutional memory is an incredibly valuable tool, Ouedraogo noted.
Senators shared a few updates during Committee Reports. Reports began with Vice Treasurer Kodinna Anachebe giving updates about their appointments. As Residence Life (ResLife) liaison, Anachebe is working with ResLife to prepare for students moving out, hoping to make the process as easy and stress free as possible.
Beq Yonaka, who has been fiercely advocating for more accessibility on campus, is working on hiring practices for live captioners. They want to hire live captioners for public meetings, making them more accessible to all students. Live captioners are much more accurate and reliable than automatic captions, which would create more equality among students, according to Yonaka.