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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Out with the old, in with the new: 75th Session of Student Senate commences

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Photo by Ishika Samant

Former Speaker of the Senate senior Iman Ahmed opens the 75th Session of the Texas A&M Student Senate. 

The 75th Session of the Texas A&M Student Senate convened on March 23 for its first meeting, electing and swearing in new leadership, including Senate speaker, speaker pro tempore and rules and regulations chair. Newly elected Student Body President Case Harris, a finance junior, was also sworn in.

During the next month and a half, the 74th and 75th sessions will be meeting on alternating weeks. Having been newly elected by the student body, the 75th Session will be electing internal leadership over the coming months. At this meeting, the most senior leadership was elected.

There were two senators nominated for speaker: agricultural economics junior Tyler Smith, who won the election, and computer engineering junior Fawaz Syed. Smith ran on a platform of efficiency of operations and spoke on his knowledge of and commitment to the rules of parliamentary procedure, which he said he believes makes him perfect for this role.

“I think this is the place where I will excel the most. We will swiftly and fairly execute parliamentary procedure, not wasting any time,” Smith said. “We will quickly and fairly move through legislation with no delay.”

Smith also discussed his idea for working groups to focus on areas of research and improvement within the university, including student government as a whole. He specifically brought up the status of A&M as a Hispanic Serving Institution, a federal recognition from the Department of Education.

“We need to research Hispanic Serving Institution status,” Smith said. “We are the first of six national senior military colleges to achieve that status, and we need to know what it means. We need to know what that means for our students and how we can connect them to programs.”

Smith later, during the question and answer session, said he plans to work closely with the Diversity and Inclusion committee to make sure every student feels their voice is heard in the Student Senate and on campus.

Another point of Smith’s campaign was to establish social opportunities to build community within the Student Senate. Business administration junior Ben Fisher, Smith’s character witness, emphasized the importance of this element.

“I would argue that the most important conversations that happen in Texas A&M Student Senate happen outside of Koldus 144,” Fisher said.

Syed’s campaign discussed many of the same points, though particular focus was on increasing the social media presence of Student Senate, adding more workshops and interactive elements into meetings and refining communication between different committees. Syed proposed a liaison system in which senators would be connected to and work alongside administrative departments.

“I want to expand a liaison-based system that I implemented this year where every senator gets to go meet with a few departments that they get to focus on and be the knowledge source for that committee,” Syed said.

After both presentations and rounds of debate, Smith was elected and sworn in as the new speaker of the Student Senate by a majority secret ballot election.

The next race was for the speaker pro tempore, the position in charge of most of the behind-the-scenes work of Student Senate, leading the Operations committee. Political science sophomore Graham Wolfe, agricultural economics sophomore Nick Hines and political science freshman Brandon Rea were all nominated for this role.

Rea differentiated himself from the pack with his Student Senate experience and ultimately won the vote. Despite only being a freshman and not officially serving on Student Senate, in his role with Fish Aides, Rea worked closely with the previous pro tempore and with many senate and executive committees. 

Finally, poultry science and agricultural leadership and development junior Carly Oldag ran unopposed for Rules and Regulations committee chair. Oldag talked about her seven years of experience with parliamentary procedure and her commitment to fair and unbiased application of the rules.

With these positions filled, the next to be filled will be the other committee chairs, including Finance, Diversity and Inclusion and Student Services. These positions will be voted on at the next meeting on April 6.

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