Regan Grant" />
side bar
Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Conflict arises over appointments, procedure at most recent SGA senate meeting

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

In contrast to the relaxed meetings the Student Government Association held over the summer, the first meeting of the fall semester was marked by significant disagreement.

At the center of the issue seemed to be a rift between the recently-elected Students Unite senators and two-year SGA veteran Sen. Michael Abel. Conflict first arose when Abel objected to the appointment of Marie McGrew as director of external affairs.

“You have a track record of inappropriate behavior in the chamber. Including hooting, screaming, cursing and name calling other senators,” Abel said. “So given your behavioral track record, why are you fit for an external facing role and why should that be rewarded with a paid position?”

Abel, who served with McGrew as part of the 59th administration, said that her conduct during several of last year’s senate meetings left a lot to be desired. He shared a recording of one meeting in which McGrew could be seen growing visibly frustrated.

The recording, which was taken at an SGA meeting last year, featured an argument over the potential appointment of now-Sen. Spiridhon Hoxha to the office of election commissioner. Disagreement erupted when, after a second vote, his appointment was once again shot down by the assembled senators. A frustrated McGrew can then be seen storming out of the SGA senate chamber.

“Reflecting on my experience, I recognize my previous performance, but my commitment to moving forward is unwavering,” McGrew said. “With experience comes maturity and I have grown since my time with the previous administration. My focus is on the mission and goals of this administration.”

While Hoxha was not appointed to serve under the 59th administration, he was elected to serve as an undergraduate senator-at-large in the 60th. He defended McGrew’s appointment, saying that SGA should focus more on action and less on what he considered to be petty politics.

“I don’t think that one bad interaction should be indicative of a person’s full character,” Hoxha said. “This is a new admin, and we should give people grace. As senators we were elected by the student body to enact policies and we should focus more on that instead of politics.”

Despite Abel’s objections, the majority of the senate voted in favor of McGrew and she was appointed as director of external affairs.

A candidate for the position of deputy attorney general, Matthew Tao, then took the stand. After his presentation, the senate began their questioning.

While not as contentious as McGrew’s appointment, some senators took issue with what they saw as an easier line of questioning relative to McGrew’s appointment. Sen. Anahi Ortega reminded senators of what was expected of them.

“I expect a level of questioning to be similar for all candidates, if not better than what we did for Ms. McGrew,” Ortega said. “I think the level of questioning that we gave Mr. Tao was disappointing.”

After a very brief tabling and a majority vote, Tao was appointed as Deputy Attorney General.

Following the appointment of McGrew and Tao, tensions rose once again as Abel pushed for the strike of committee candidates who were not present at the senate meeting for their appointment hearings.

“The senate has the right to interview the candidates, so they should have attended this meeting,” Abel said.

SGA President Benjamin Rizk strongly disagreed, and said the candidates — Salik Faisal, Pavan Kureti, Adefemi Abimbola and Jared Lewis — were not directly informed of their encouraged attendance.

“In the past, there have been many people who have attended university committees without having to come to the Senate to have an in-person hearing,” Rizk said. “The whole point [of committees] is to be able to get people access to give input on university issues without having to go full throttle into SGA.”

After a long debate, the senate concluded that the appointments would be tabled for the next senate meeting where the candidates will be informed of their encouraged attendance.

Proceeding with the appointments of candidates present, Sen. Anahi Ortega was appointed to the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee and the Information Technology Advisory Committee.

Sen. Sarah Jaleel was appointed to the Counseling and Psychological Services Advisory Committee and the Faculty Senate Undergraduate Committee.

To end the meeting, the Supporting Higher Wages for Lower-Income Campus Staff resolution was voted on. The resolution details SGA’s support for the university’s budget to increase the student minimum wage to $10 and the staff minimum wage to $15. All members of the senate, except for Abel, voted to pass the resolution.

“UH isn’t Harvard with endless money to throw around, we are a broke public school,” Abel said. “So if you start raising costs in one area, we’re either going to need to raise student fees, raise tuition or cut services for students.”

[email protected]

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑
  • Sign up for our Email Edition

  • Polls

    What about UH will you miss the least this summer?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...