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SGA senate approves cabinet, speaker in heated meeting

SGA cabinet

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

In the first senate meeting of the 59th Student Government Association administration, members of the cabinet and senate were appointed, along with old election turmoil resurfacing.

In the first senate meeting of every new SGA administration, senators appoint cabinet members for the new President along with a Speaker of the Senate that will conduct future meetings and spearhead senate affairs.

Among the list of potential appointees was former SGA #RiseUp candidate Elliot Carter.

Prior to the disqualification of #RiseUp, Carter had a complaint filed against him and another party member for offensive content on their Twitter accounts.

The complaint said Carter was retweeting content that was racially insensitive and went on to say his Twitter activity “satisfy instances of discrimination” regarding people of different races, gender expression and identities.

Carter was penalized with a 48 hour campaigning ban as a result, and was advised to stay away from such content as well as disseminating COVID-19 misinformation.

“I am constantly seeking to improve as a human being, and this involves personal reflection and constructive conversations,” Carter said in his personal statement in last year’s complaint. “Shaming and painting me, a human being with my own vast, personal experiences, as a bigot simply because I differ in opinions that someone else, is deeply hurtful.”

Backed by SGA president Joshua Martin, Carter spoke out about what he aims to do when elected as chief of staff, with the main goal of being transparent with students, along with not wanting partisanship to negatively affect the student body and the legislation passed.

“I don’t believe being a Republican, being a Democrat, conservative or liberal should affect the position at all,” Carter said. “My political position is the student position and thus should be treated as such.”

After opening the floor up for questions, Carter was asked about his previous tweets and apologized for the racial insensitivity shown in them.

“I’ve worked to better myself, as well as better our relations with minority communities,” Carter said.

A few senators spoke out, stating that despite Carter’s former actions, he is continuously trying to learn from his actions and shouldn’t be shunned for the tweets made last year.

“As a person who’s been able to talk to him and show him where he’s went wrong, I feel like that’s very important to society in general,” said CLASS senator Marie McGrew.

Multiple motions to extend questioning were passed before coming to a decision, after which a few viewers walked out. Ultimately, Carter was confirmed as a cabinet member.

After the meeting’s closing remarks, the floor was opened to students to voice their opinions.

“Personally, I don’t feel represented by the newly appointed chief of staff,” said psychology sophomore and former CLASS senator Jayda Branch.

Branch went on to criticize the assembled representatives for what she saw as many procedural errors throughout the meeting. 

Chief amongst Branch’s concerns were a lack of questioning with regards to the newly appointed chief of staff, as well as a disregard for proper procedure on behalf of the SGA members.

Former Vice Presidential candidate Alexis Boehmer also voiced concern over Carter’s appointment.

“I was really excited to have a mixed cabinet,” Boehmer said. “But in this first meeting, I have been greatly disappointed.”

For Boehmer, the spotty social media history of Carter represented more than a simple difference in political opinion.

The issues highlighted during the appointment process were indicative of an overt disregard for the fundamental rights of Carter’s constituents, in particular LGBTQ+ students as well as students of color, Boehmer said.

“A basic opinion on the representation and respect of minority groups, that’s not a political opinion,” Boehmer said. “Those are the people that you guys are representing, those are the people that are in this room, those are the people that are like me, those are the people that are out in this school.” 

President Joshua Martin thanked Boehmer and Branch for speaking their minds before moving to adjourn the meeting.

“I would like to thank the senate once again for putting their faith in Elliot Carter to serve as chief of staff,” Martin said. “I’m very thankful that they (the senate) have spoken, and that their voice has been heard.”

Aside from the spat over Chief of Staff, former Undergraduate at Large senator Aryana Azizi was appointed as Speaker of Senate. Other appointments included Caitlyn Foret as director of public outreach, Caitlin Beafneaux appointed as the director of external affairs and Dylan Thompson for College of Technology senator.

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