The Student Bar Association Senate swore in its new president, executive vice president and incoming senators for the 2023-24 academic year in their final meeting this year Tuesday.
Associate Judge and Chief Justice-elect Wolfgang Paulson swore in freshman Kaitlin Fontana as executive vice president, who pledged in late March to lead the senate with “compassion” and “understanding” during her campaign and to be a “friendly” and “approachable” face for any SBA inquires. Fontana then swore in second-year law student Shallum Atkinson as the body’s president, who said in his first address to the body that he will work with senators to modernize student study spaces to make them more “enjoyable” and “comfortable,” increase student organization budgets and bolster mental health services for “nontraditional” students.
“I want to be a partner with all of you in this,” Atkinson said. “At the end of the day, when you finally graduate and when I finally graduate, we can say that we left our legacy and our place on this campus to do good work and to make the opportunities better for those that follow.”
Fontana said the nine new senators will participate in training sessions to prepare them for their role in the fall, and she will reach out to them to assign them to their six committees. Fontana began campaigning Feb. 27 for the SBA’s March 10 election.
Senators unanimously confirmed Paulson – a second-year law student and an associate justice who has served since fall 2022 – to the chief justice position, replacing graduating third-year law student Deja Williams.
The senate unanimously approved Joint Resolution 7, which amends the SBA constitution to become compliant with University-wide policy and requirements. Ball said David Bonilla-Ciferri, the assistant director of Student Involvement and Leadership of the Division for Student Life notified the senate that the bylaw amendments are necessary for the SBA to reregister as a student organization on campus.
The amendments update the senate’s bylaws with a nondiscrimination clause and a clause clarifying that the senate must uphold all University policies.
Third-year law student Karsten Ball – the director of the Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committee, which conducts interviews with individual professors to provide input on their applicability for tenure and promotion – said the committee collected student evaluations of professors’ performance over the course of last year to strengthen faculty members’ understanding of students’ academic needs and desires.
“I can tell you from having attended some of these faculty meetings that faculty is not always aware of the motivations that drive the student body and the interest that we have in promotion decisions,” Ball said.
The SBA Senate will hold its next meeting next fall in the Law Learning Center.
Hannah Marr contributed reporting.
This article appeared in the April 20, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.