Student Association leaders elected members to to fill the pro-tempore and committee chair positions at its first senate-elect meeting Monday.
The Senate elected SA Sen. Cordelia Scales, SEAS-U, as chairperson pro-tempore of the senate, a position that chairs the governance and nominations committee and leads the senate in case of the vice president’s absence, according to the constitution. Senators also filled eight of the body’s nine committees with new chairs and members and tabled appointments for the governance and nominations committee ahead of the new senate’s swearing-in ceremony Saturday.
Scales said her past year of experience on the governance and nominations committee and her knowledge of recently updated SA bylaws prepared her to step into the pro-tempore position.
“During my time on these committees, I worked on pass/no pass, Title IX reform and making the academic integrity code more equitable,” Scales said. “Additionally, I maintain a 100 percent attendance rate at all committee meetings.”
Senators amended the bylaws this semester, reforming finance and election procedures and increasing the number of committees – including the new physical facilities and urban affairs committee and separate student life and education committees for undergraduates and graduates.
She said as pro tempore, she will create “cheat sheets” to help senators understand the changes made to the bylaws.
Senators elected SA Sen. Yan Xu, U-at-Large, as chair of the finance and allocations committee that deals with student organizations’ allocation and co-sponsorship requests. He said as the finance chair, he will publicize the financial bylaws to the student organizations so the allocations process will be “efficient and transparent.”
“We will improve the process of procedures for organizations to apply or use money,” Xu said. “Those procedures should be short and sweet. And last but not least, we must support our graduate students on issues such as financial aid and tuition reduction.”
The SA finance committee is tasked with allocating more than $1.7 million to undergraduate and graduate student organizations each year to support events and other operational costs, according to the SA website.
The committee has allocated more than $430,000 to student organizations for the upcoming fall semester in hopes of in-person events returning to campus. The SA allocated $270,660 to student organizations for fiscal year 2021, marking a 78 percent decrease from the year before when the SA allocated more than $1.2 million to student organizations.
The senate also elected SA Sen. Derek Lo, U-at-Large, for the new physical facilities and urban affairs committee, which will focus on issues related to Disability Support Services, the Colonial Health Center and the Lerner Health and Wellness Center. Lo said he will use his connections to make the Colonial Health Center more “comfortable” for students and will work to increase the diversity of mental health counselors in the CHC.
“I prepared to use these connections with these administrators to ensure that all your projects succeed in these areas,” Lo said. “I also want to work to create more community and study spaces on campus, particularly in CCAS academic center, because the current structure is not a collaborative and community-oriented environment.”
SA Vice President-elect Kate Carpenter said the senate needs to improve relationships between the SA and the student body, which she said is not “fond” with the SA because of division within the senate. She said the SA needs to make the senate meetings more “accessible” and “efficient” for students to improve relationship between the SA and student body.
“I know most of the reasons that the student body is discontent with the SA is because of the senate,” Carpenter said. “They see the internal divide that we have within the senate, they see the animosity we have and that reflects in the work that we do and that reflects in how we treat each other. And that reflects in how we treat the student body, and that’s not happening in the 2021-2022 senate.”
The SA elected Sen. Philippa Balshaw, G-At Large, as the chair of the graduate education committee and Sen. Adam Snyder, MSPH-U, as the chair of the undergraduate education committee. Senators also elected Sen. Cody Ingraham, LAW-G, to chair the graduate student life committee and Sen. Chris Pino, CCAS-U, to chair the undergraduate student life committee.
The next senate-elect meeting will be held May 10 to approve the budget and legislative SA staffers for the 2021-2022 Senate. Applications for legislative staff positions closed last week, but executive senate positions will be open until Friday.