SA Senate confirms executive cabinet member

Media Credit: Photo Illustration by Danielle Towers | Assistant Photo Editor

Senators passed a resolution of appreciation for Chief Financial Officer Mark Diaz, who is slated to retire by the end of the month.

Student Association Senators confirmed SA President Christian Zidouemba’s communications director Monday after Senators rejected the executive cabinet candidate at the previous meeting last month.

Senators voted 18-2-1 to confirm Aiza Saeed as communications director when five senators switched their vote Monday after they initially failed to meet the two-thirds majority threshold required to confirm her in their last meeting, where they cited concerns that she would not be able to connect with graduate students. Senators also passed a resolution of appreciation for Chief Financial Officer Mark Diaz, who is slated to retire by the end of the month, but rejected Zidouemba’s Cabinet Creation Act, which would have consolidated the responsibilities of multiple cabinet positions into one.

Sen. Kai Simson, CPS-G, said he did not vote for Saeed during her first nomination because he felt Saeed did not give a “substantial answer” on how to engage graduate students in the SA.

“I think that’s incredibly important as the grad senator representing grad students,” he said.

Saeed said in Monday’s meeting that she had met graduate students while she participated in women’s club basketball, so she plans to use casual events like coffee chats to “increase communication” between graduate students and undergraduates in her new role as communications director.

During the reconsideration period, senators repeated questioning on how many staff members Saeed thought she would need as communications director and how she would delegate responsibilities between her staff members. Saeed said her experience coordinating a magazine with a team of four people last summer prepared her to work with a small staff.

“I would also choose people with the same work ethic that I have,” she said. “Which is, finish your work on time, do it to the best of your ability, it should look good or whatever.”

Senators unanimously passed the EVP Diaz Appreciation Act. The Act, sponsored by Sen. Demetrius Apostolis, CCAS-U, thanks Diaz for his “more than four years of service.”

Apostolis said he wished Diaz the best in his future endeavors.

“EVP Diaz was instrumental in pushing the University through this hard time during the pandemic,” he said. “We thank him for his contribution and financial expertise throughout the last few years.”

Senators also failed to pass Zidouemba’s Cabinet Creation Act in a 9-11 vote with 1 abstention. The Act would have amended the SA bylaws to codify Zidouemba’s historically small cabinet, condensing the responsibilities of multiple positions into one and adding executive secretaries to oversee graduate student academic affairs and governmental and alumni relations.

Zidouemba said he hoped the Act would maximize the cabinet’s efficiency, “reduce confusion and increase accountability.”

“This way, all students, as well as the Senate, will have a better understanding of who’s in charge of what office and who’s responsible for what,” he said. “This approach will solve some of the problems discovered in the last year’s cabinet.”

The next Senate meeting will be held on June 27 at 8:30 p.m. over Zoom.

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