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Friday, December 13, 2019

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56th Administration’s first meeting brings in new speaker of the Senate


SGA President Allison Lawrence stressed a message of transparency and unity, and she said she is excited for the chance to work with all senators, regardless of who they ran with in the elections earlier this year. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

The Student Government Association’s 56th Senate met for the first time Wednesday evening, remaining in the Senate Chamber for nearly five hours.

The Senate voted to approve appointees to each executive board position proposed during the meeting, but heavy debate ensued for a few candidates. Three candidates ran for speaker of the Senate, with former College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Sen. Alex Do ultimately winning the vote.

SGA President Allison Lawrence gave a few remarks about the upcoming administration to begin the meeting, saying she is excited to work with everyone and stressing a message of unity and transparency over the next year.

“Doesn’t really matter who you ran with, we’re all here together, and my goal is to support all of you,” Lawrence said. “So if you have initiatives, if you have questions, if you want to know what the executives are doing, just hit me up.”

Speaker of the Senate election

The most important order of business for the night was the appointment of the new speaker of the Senate. Three candidates were nominated: Do, CLASS Sen. Randolph Campbell and incumbent Speaker of the Senate Kim-Briana Lorine.

“I demonstrated my ability to bring the Senate together to focus on a common goal,” Campbell said. “I did this with, specifically, my Navigate resolution. Before I introduced it to the full Senate, I talked to almost every individual senator and I asked for their input on it. I ended up getting 27 co-sponsors on this resolution.”

Campbell, the first of the candidates to speak, also serves as the chair of the Cougar Card Advisory Committee, which he said has given him experience organizing meetings, putting together agendas and minutes and enforcing parliamentary procedure.

Do, who spoke second, has served as a CLASS senator for a year, during which he said he learned a lot from his fellow SGA members. A key goal for Do was to maintain a high level of communication and approachability with the senators, he said.

“During my time at SGA, I’ve had the pleasure of working with multiple speakers, who taught me a lot about what being speaker entails,” Do said. “I want to take the precedents set by the previous speakers and use my experience as both legislative chief of staff and senator to improve on those precedents.”

Lorine, who spoke third, was the speaker of the Senate for the final few months of the 55th Administration. She spoke about what continuing her seven years of experience with SGA meant to her.

“Communication and building relationships are keys for every leader but especially for speaker,” Lorine said. “I have met with almost every one of you, spoken about your initiatives, listened and gave my full support because I believe it is the role of the speaker to provide the tools to make each one of your initiatives come to life.”

After all three candidates spoke and answered questions from the senators in a Q&A, the Senate moved to the first round of voting, which resulted in a run-off vote between Campbell and Do. After the run-off votes were tallied, Do was elected as speaker of the Senate with 19 votes to Campbell’s 13.

Officer appointments

The second portion of the night consisted of executive appointments.

The Senate appointed Vi Pham as chief of staff, Tania Hameed as deputy chief of staff, incumbent Jessica Hulett as director of external affairs, incumbent Erica O’Brien as director of public relations, Bryan Medrano as director of outreach and incumbent Bo Harricharran as chief election commissioner.

“As chief of staff, I expect the individual to be personable, to be proactive and to be present, and I believe I can set all three of these qualities with my experiences. With each one I have been able to translate those lessons into the responsibilities of the chief of staff,” Pham said in her speech before being appointed by the Senate, which voted unanimously in her favor.

While every remaining appointment passed in the Senate, there was a notable debate over the legitimacy of Harricharran’s re-appointment, as the application for chief election commissioner was allegedly not made public by Attorney General Sakethram Desabhotla.

Regardless, the Senate decided to elect Harricharran, but some members were adamant in finding a way to prevent this oversight in the future.

Tomas Bryan and Eduardo Abrams were also approves as undergraduate at-large senators.

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