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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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Student Senate approves changes to election procedure for student body president

Koldus+Building
Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver
Koldus Building

The Texas A&M Student Senate met Wednesday, Nov. 3, where it passed a resolution which updated the rules regarding student body president, or SBP, elections. The change comes after an issue last year in which many candidates dropped out of events at the last minute. The added rule now says candidates cannot withdraw from an event within the 72 hours leading up to it.

During the SBP race, there is typically a SBP Town Hall and Diversity Panel which aims to allow the student body to gain an understanding of each candidate’s campaign. The diversity event, hosted by the Student Government Association, or SGA, Diversity Commission, aims to give candidates a time to listen to student concerns about diversity, inclusion and campus culture. Last year, another event, the Free Speech Forum’s “Inaugural 6 Pillars Student Body President Debate,” was scheduled at the same time as the town hall. International studies senior and community relations chair Alexia Hernandez said she saw this as an attack on diversity at A&M.

After the event, the Student Senate passed a resolution on Feb. 24 condemning the Free Speech Forum and candidates who attended, stating they disrespected the SGA.

The resolution also states the Student Senate would explore options to avoid such a situation in the future. The Student Senate revisited this thought at the Nov. 5 meeting, passing a resolution which does not allow candidates to withdraw from an SGA-sponsored campaign event. The change, however, came after long debate.

The original text of the resolution would require candidates to attend at least two SGA-sponsored campaign events. Agriculture economics junior and chair of the Rules and Regulation Committee Meghan Hein proposed the amendment to make the events optional, but make it harder to withdraw at the last minute. Hein argued that by not showing up to events where students can ask them questions, candidates would be showing who they really are and what they stand for.

“[Candidates] not showing up sends the message that you need to go. They aren’t prioritizing SGA events; they aren’t prioritizing listening to students. That is what this amendment is doing,” Hein said.

Other senators disagreed with this amendment, including mechanical engineering junior and chair of the Constituency Affairs Committee Victor Ferro. Ferro argued it is best to mandate all candidates attend these events so students can ask questions to all of the candidates and find out the viewpoints of the students who want to represent the student body.

“We want them there to ask all the questions and actually make sure that they are the person that we want as SBP,” Ferro said. “If you ask me personally, I would mandate all of the events and encourage them to go to events sponsored outside [SGA] because, at the end of the day, they should be [held] accountable not only by SGA, but the whole university.”

The amendment passed by a voice vote and will go into effect with the 2022 Student Body President Election. 

The Senate also passed a resolution recognizing the month of November as Native American and Native Alaskan Heritage Month and recognizing the cultural and historical impacts, service and contributions of Native Americans, Indigenous Americans and Alaskan Natives on A&M.

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