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Spring-elect senators sworn in, Legislative elections held

Photo by Michael Herrara

A total of 17 new Student Government (SG) senators were sworn in during the April 13 meeting, with their first votes cast just moments later while electing members of the Legislative Branch.

The Red Party defeated United candidate opponents in two out of three contests for Legislative Cabinet seats, while the United Party was also unable gain the president pro-tempore seat against an Independent nominee. Despite recurring calls for change in leadership from United Senator Christopher Jordan, party members were willing to reach across party lines in favor of experienced senators.*

Senate President Chase Baker (Red) sought re-election for the position, defeating Senator Bryce McColskey (Red) in a 21-15 vote. Senator Troy Bottom (Red) was elected as the Budget and Allocations Committee (BAC) Chair with 19 votes. The Government and Oversight Committee Chair was won by Senator Gustavo Ascanio (Red) in a 21-14 vote over newly elected Senator Katherine Thames (United). Newly sworn-in Senator Paola Lorenzo (United) was elected as the University and Student Affairs Chair with a 22-12 vote over Senator Sabrina Sorrentino (Red).

During the hearing to elect a senate president pro-tempore, Senator Amanda Harvey asked nominee freshman Senator Austin Daniels how he would get senators to come to monthly meetings with current attendance being so low. Daniels said he was reluctant to respond to a question he would not know the answer to, and was not going to play political games.

Senator Caleb Grantham (Independent) defeated Daniels (United) for the pro-tempore position with 64 percent of the vote.

Grantham and Senator Noah Gomez (Independent) were appointed to open senate seats earlier that night.

Voting tallies by the United Party indicate a reluctance to completely back party candidates for the legislative branch positions. The United Party swore in 17 senators during the meeting, but the number of votes for United candidates never equaled the number of United senators present, with the exception of Lorenzo’s victory.

Moments before the University and Student Affairs Chair election came to a roll call vote, Student Government Adviser Victoria Shore reminded the senators to stay off of cell phones, and that texting is not permitted.

Judicial appointments were unanimously approved to place current senator Jonathan Rader and freshman William “Cap” Mewbourne as justices. Both candidates were endorsed by President Joseph Turner on the senate floor prior to the swearing in of new senators.

On his first night in office, United Senator Sean O’Linn left the Senate Chambers an hour and a half before adjournment in order to attend a fraternity meeting. Despite pleas outside the Senate Chambers from Vice President elect Hailey Guerra, O’Linn said he sits on the board of his fraternity and that President elect Shomari Gloster was aware of the situation.

The Senate also voted to unanimously to approve the Boathouse Renovations legislation, including an amendment to the bill which increased the contingency fund to 20 percent.

“The change comes from a recommendation from a Student Government director,” President Turner said. “In case more than one thing goes wrong or needs attention, we are going to need to come back for funding, so we want to expand that to have a little more flexibility.”

An updated total of $28,498 has been allocated to phase one of the renovation which will include aesthetic upgrades, a menu change and tile flooring.

Phase two may bring new booths, a pool hall lounge and event television screens with funding possibly being allocated from the Student Union Fund balance, according to Turner.

Revisions to Title XIII were unanimously approved, with the legislation addressing and encouraging student participation in filling senate vacancies before application statutes of limitations expire. This will include updating the legislative branch with applicant information and providing a larger Government and Oversight Committee role in the process.

Title IV revisions, which updated and corrected old language within the bill, were approved by the Constitution and Statutes Committee last week and sent to the senate floor for a final vote. The revisions were unanimously approved.

*4/14/2015 at 11:13 p.m. – Updated with details of full story 

*4/15/15 at 11:57 a.m. – Updated with video

For more information or news tips, contact [email protected]; if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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